Autism Spectrum Disorder and Speech-Language Development

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a general term for a number of developmental disorders that vary widely by type and severity. This is why autism is referred to as a spectrum disorder.  Other terms used to describe conditions on the autism spectrum include asperger syndrome (sometimes called "high-functioning" autism), childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).

Explaining ASD can be a challenge, because of the huge variety of characteristics. As the saying goes: "When you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism."

There are three factors that define ASD, and that must be present for a diagnosis of autism in children:

1. A deficit in social interaction (what language geeks like me call pragmatics).

2. A deficit in verbal and nonverbal communication.

3. Repetitive behaviors and/or highly specialized interests. 

Other factors, such as sensory integration deficits, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive behavior, are common with ASD, but they are not universal.

A person with autism spectrum disorder may or may not have a cognitive impairment.  Some individuals with autism have very high intelligence and are able to earn advanced academic degrees.  One such individual is Temple Grandin, Ph.D., who has written a number of books about her life and experiences as a person with ASD,  including how her 'disorder' has been an asset for certain aspects of her professional life.  Another example is Dawn Prince-Hughes, Ph.D.a primate anthropologist and author of Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism, in which she credits her autism with enabling her to gain insight into the social interactions of gorillas.


More information about autism

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Causes of Autism

What is Autism?

Facts about Autism

Early Signs of Autism

Symptoms of Autism

Diagnosing Autism

Types of Autism

Autism Treatment

Autism Speech Therapy

Autism Research

Famous People with Autism

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