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Autism: Symptoms, Forms, Diagnostic Instruments Essay

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Updated: Aug 18th, 2022

Autism can be defined as a spectrum disorder. It’s basically a brain development disorder that impairs social interaction and communication and can cause restricted and repetitive behavior. This type of disorder can affect both children and adults but in most cases, it manifests itself in children below the age of three years. The sign manifested by this disorder can be quite different individuals such as that two children can be suffering from this same illness but signs and symptoms manifested in both of them are very much different. This set of signs can be used to distinguish autism from milder autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s syndrome.

Autism disorder is mainly an inherited disorder that can rein in a generation for a lifetime. The genetics of autism is unclear since it’s not well known which gene actually carries autism disorder. The disorder is mainly associated with agents who cause birth defects and thus why it’s highly heritable. The number of individuals suffering from this disorder has increased drastically since 1980 due to changes in diagnostic practice (Sicile-kira, 2004).

Autism can affect many parts of the brain. The symptoms can be seen within the first two years of the child’s life cognitive behavior can help the child a great deal in gaining self-care, social, and communication skills. This condition has no cure and it has lead to many children living independently when they reach adulthood, but some are quite successful. Culture has a developed-autism culture which some individuals seek in order to cure the disease and others believe that autism is just a condition but not a disorder.

Autism is basically a developmental disorder of the human brain that its first symptoms are initially manifested in infancy and it follows a steady cause without relapse. The disorder can cause brain impairment which results from maturation-related changes (Anderson, Emmon, 2005).

Autism covers quite a broad spectrum which normally ranges from an individual with severe impairment. These individuals may manifest signs such as being silent, mentally disabled to a less impaired individual who may have active but distinctively odd social approaches, narrowly focused interest and verbose, pediatric communication. This syndrome on some occasions it can be divided into low, medium, and high functioning autism. It can also be classified as syndrome or non-syndrome depending on autism whereby the former has severe profound mental retardation or congenital syndrome which has a physical symptom. Non-syndrome autism is unclear since it does not have distinct characteristics.

Autism is distinguished from other disorders by the pattern of symptoms that they manifest. The main characteristics of autism disorder are:

  • Impaired social interaction.
  • Impaired communication.
  • Restricted interest.
  • Repetitive behavior.

Autism can appear as a result of developmental factors which mainly affect many parts of the brain or the whole brain system and consequently distribute the course of brain development than the final product. This mainly occurs as a result of an alteration of the brain soon after conception.

Under connectivity theory of autism hypotheses that autism is mainly marked by under-functioning of the high-level neural connections and synchronization which is coupled by excess low-level processes.

There are quite a number of diagnostic instruments used in diagnosing autism disorder. These include:

  • Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) which mainly involves parent interview.
  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) mainly encompasses observation and interaction with a child.
  • Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). This is used to access the severity of autism based on observation of the behavior of a child.

The disorder can be managed in order to minimize its symptom in that individual whose symptoms have been clearly manifested. This helps to reduce the associated deficit and family distress which results in increased quality of life and functional independence (Goff, 2004). In order to maintain this disorder, the child needs to undergo, intensive sustained special education programs and behavior therapy early in life which helps to maintain the condition at a minimum?

These maintenance skills help the child as she or he grows to acquire some skills which can help him or her in life such as Acquire self-care, social skills, and job skills interventions done before the age of three months is very crucial since the child learns to adapt to the skills early in life. In prognosis, there is no cure for this disorder and it shows that many children lack social support, meaningful relationships, future employment opportunities, or self-determination. Symptoms became less severe after childhood. In adults, some modest communication skills are seen.

Some children with this disorder experience a lot of difficulties when talking to someone. At the time they do not look at someone straight to the eyes while talking to them. They do not regularly pay attention in class and at the time they tend to repeat the same sentence once and again for them to calm down. When they are happy, they can express it by flapping their arks, or when they are not happy they can hurt themselves. Some children with autism disorder since the brain is impaired during conception may not learn how to talk. This disorder is referred to as spectrum disorder since the symptoms manifest themselves differently in different individuals.

Asperger syndrome is a milder version of the disorder. Autism has no cure and generally, it prevails throughout the life of an individual but treatment and maintenance of the disease can help to control the symptoms. Treatment of this condition is basically behavior and communication therapies and medicine is rarely administered to control the symptoms.

Autism has a lot of risks that are associated with both prenatal and postnatal risk factors. These can be characterized by both advanced maternal or postnatal age.

The disorder is also associated with other conditions such as:

  • A genetic disorder, mental retardation, maleness-boys are at a very high risk of acquiring the disorder than girls, epilepsy and metabolic defects such as phenylketonuria.

Autism spectrum can also be referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism spectrum condition (ASC). Its mainly a spectrum of psychological conditions which are characterized by widespread abnormality as a result of lack of good social interactive skills, communication, severely restricted interest, and a habit of repetitive behavior mainly in children but it advances till old age since it has no cure (Gate, 2003).

There are mainly three forms of autism spectrum disorders:

  • Autism (autistic disorder).
  • Asperger syndrome.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (DDD- NOs).

These disorders are referred to as spectrum since they manifest different symptoms in different individuals who suffer from the same condition. These disorder manifests similar features one person may have mild symptoms while in another individual may have serious symptoms but both of them are having autism spectrum disorder.

Autism disorder can also be referred to as a pervasive developmental disorder. This category includes autism spectrum disorders and in addition, child disintegrative disorders and Rett syndrome.

Signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are mainly noticed by parents early in a child’s life by noticing unsocial behavior with the child. At the time the signs are noticed and the baby seems different from birth, unresponsive to people or focusing on the same time for a long time. Children who have also developed normally can have signs of autism disorder and these are noticed when the child starts behaving abnormally like which an affectionate, playful baby suddenly becomes silent, withdraw from many activities, is self-abusive, or become indifferent to social overtures.

Unlike autism, Aspergers has no significant delay in language development disorder. Some individuals with this disorder can be proficient in notes memorization which greatly helps the individual in learning.

In contrast, individuals on the autism spectrum are capable of reading signs and facial expressions social reasoning, and understanding stereotypes. According to statistics carried out eighteen children at the age of 10to14 were able to attribute a range of mental states to dynamic and static social expression but not the same way as their neural typical peers.

Autism children can recognize their mental state when their eyes and mouths are conveying information than when their facial features were static and neutral. The next set of children 11-15 were capable at their neural typical peer at interpreting mental state whether the eyes or the whole face was in isolation.

People suffering from autism tend to commit social faux pas since they are not able to predict the reactions of others. People with autism can be taught how society works by using virtual reality simulations to learn about the complex rules of society.

Since an autism spectrum is a number of autistic conditions but the signs and symptoms that those individuals suffering from this condition are quite different in different diseases manifested in the is a condition, But similarly, there are quite a number of symptoms that are similar and they manifest the same way in those individuals suffering from this condition (Larkey, 2006).

A child or adult with this disease condition might prevent the following symptoms:

  • A child does not play with others but insisted he or she pretend to be playing.
  • The children tend to point to show interest like frying birds, airplanes, and so on.
  • An individual has a lot of problems in relating to others and lacks interest in people.
  • They look shy and avoid eye contact while talking to people.
  • They are not free to talk to people so as to express their feeling and also they do not understand other people’s feelings and therefore they can hurt them easily.
  • Children do not like to b handled or candled but instead, they do it when they want.
  • Some are very interested in people but they experience difficulties in talking playing and relating to people freely.
  • Individuals can repeat, echo words, or even phrases that are said to them often.
  • They have trouble while expressing their needs by the use of typical words.
  • While doing something, they repeat their actions several times.
  • In case of a change of environment or something they normally take a lot of time in adapting.
  • They react unusually to the way various things smell, taste, sound, and look.
  • In case they had acquired some skills they can lose them easily.

This disorder is referred to as a spectrum since it encompasses many conditions such and they manifest themselves differently. For example, in summary, the condition appears are follows:

  • Autistic disorder:
    • This is the most severe disorder in this spectrum its symptoms are varying. The individuals have the following characteristics: (Vermeulen, 2000)
    • -Severely disordered verbal and non-verbal language.
    • He or she portrays unusual behaviors while relating to people.
  • Asperger’s syndrome:
    • The patient has relatively good verbal language and can communicate with people.
    • Milder has non-verbal language and uses few signs to express him/herself.
    • An individual has restricted ranges of interests and relatedness.
  • PDD- NOS:
    • An individual has a lot of nonverbal problems which hinders free communication.
    • The person is unable to meet strict criteria for other PDD disorders.
    • In other spectrum disorders which are not usually common they also have varying degree of symptoms which make them to fit in the spectrum. These are:-
  • Rett‘s disorder:
    • This is a rare neurodegenerative disorder for girls. The neurons fail to degenerate which impairs brain and interfere with normal activities of the individual.
    • Childhood disintegrative disorder: – its cause is not yet known buy studies have shown that it’s a form of neurodegenerative disorder.
    • The spectrum broadens day by day some other conditions that have come up to add to the spectrum include:-
  • Semitic pragmatic communication disorder:
    • It manifests itself in various ways which makes it to fits in the spectrum of disorders. The patient experiences a delay and trouble in the use of language which includes both segmatic and pragmatic. In there individuals, their levels of socialization are relatively spared (Chesney, 2005).
  • Non verbal learning disability:
    • These individuals experience a big problem in integrating information put forward in three areas. The child has non-verbal difficulties which can cause the child to miss the major gestalt in the language that a child was taught. The child in many cases experience partial perception problems and has a problem in moronic coordination on issues which are put forward by individuals.
  • High functioning autism:
    • This condition mainly manifest it as aspergers and it appears like the real autism disorder without showing any signs of mental retardation.
  • Hyperlexia:
    • It’s mostly noticed early in life when the child shows incredible note reading skills. This mainly starts early in life and if notices it can be maintained a child can be good I n class due to the ability of note reading.

Some aspects of ADHD- impulse and control difficulties experiences in ADHD can result a lot of trouble showing their empathy.

To expound on the way autism portrays itself as spectrum of disorder, that is the condition has a number of similarities but when they manifest themselves in different ways, they lead to specifying of that type disorder. Therefore, to have a clear distinction, why these conditions are spectrum, I will discuss the symptoms manifested in each of the condition which gives clear difference between these forms of conditions.

Autistic Disorder

  • The individual quality impairment in social interaction which are basically manifested by at least two or all of the following:
    • There is marked impairment while wrong multiple non verbal behaviors like eye to eye gaze for a long time, facial expressions and the use of body postures.
    • The person may fail to develop peer relationship appropriately to attain the highest level of development.
    • The person may not be willing to share in enjoyment of those things that many individuals may find them enjoyable such as in games. The person may consequently fail in achieving some of the relevant goals that one need to achieve.
    • One may lack social or emotional reciprocity whereby one is not honoring other people emotion and their social aspects and also he/she do not care about his/hers.
  • Qualitative impairment of communication can be manifested in those individuals and this
    • Form of impairment can manifest itself in either of the following ways.
    • The patient may experience delayed or total failure in development of spoken language.
    • An individual can develop spoken language but he or she cannot sustain the conversation with others and in most cases they even fail to initiate conversation.
    • An individual can have stereotyped aspect and tendency to repeat words regularly.
  • The person with this condition has restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns in regards to the behaviors and activities of these individual.
    • One becomes pre-occupied with more than one stereotype pattern of interest.
    • The person becomes inflexible in adhering to specific non functional routines and rituals.
    • One can become persistently preoccupied with parts of objects (Pellegrini, Smith, 2000).

Apergers Sydrome

Its symptoms are quite different from those of other spectrum disorders by some are the same only that they are manifested directly and at a different degree.

These symptoms include:

  • One has impaired ability to deal with issues of social cues, for example, body or physical language, irony and other aspects of communication.
  • They have restricted eye contact while talking to people and low level of socialization. – – They have quite low level in encyclopedic interest and perspective.
  • Portraying odd behaviors even in public palaces like school.
  • A person can develop concrete thinking whereby one thinks too much since he or she cannot understand anything and therefore he or she is trying to think hard in order to understand.
  • One can be over sensitive to some issues such as stimuli since he or she can respond either positively or negatively to the stimuli by in over sensitive manner.
  • One can be engaged in unusual movements such as running to and from all the time.
  • Some other symptoms include: didactic, verbose, monotone and drowning voice.
  • In most individual who suffer from aperngers syndrome their verbal speech is usually preserved but they still experience some communication problem.

Perversive Developmental Disorder Not Ovetherwise Specified

This category if the spectrum is mainly used when there is severe and pervasive impairment in developmental of the reciprocal social interaction verbal or non-verbal communication skills. It can also be used when stereotyped behavior, interest and activities present themselves in individual with autism spectrum disorder (Uta, 2003).

The category has a typical autism which is a presentation of the disorder which does not meet the criteria for autistic disorder since it mainly set and manifests itself in late age. It has a typical symptomatology or sub threshold symptomatology or both.

Rett’s Disorder

This condition has milder symptoms.

The child during prenatal and postnatal development is quite normal.

There is a normal psychomotor development through the first five months after birth.

The head circumference after birth is quite normal.

During the onset of the condition the following developments are noticed in children who were normal during both and acquire the disorder soon after birth.

These symptoms include.

Children Disintegrative Disorder (Cdd)

In this condition, the child has a normal growth from birth up to the age of around two years when the symptoms begin to onset. This is noticed since the child has reached the age of verbal and nonverbal communication and he pr she fails to communicate freely. The social life, play and adoptive behaviors in these children are not noticed at the age of two years.

A child can consequently acquire some skills but with time loses them at around the age of ten years. Some of these skills which can be lost include

  1. The way the child expresses him or herself and the way they take information portrayed to them. One may notice reductability in perception and reception of language.
  2. The social skills and other adoptive behaviors are lost and they find it quite hard to socialize with others and adapt to their normal duties.
  3. They slowly lose the control of their bowels and bladder.
  4. Their playing activities reduces such as motor skills and loses interest in playing.

In autism spectrum disorders, there are some others which lie in the category of expanded spectrum disorders. These disorders include:

  1. High functioning autism: This has similar symptoms with aspergers syndrome or milder autism without retardation.
  2. Non-verbal leaning, disability: individuals experience a lot of trouble in integrating non verbal information. They see the big picture instead of details in the information.

This difficulty of integrating non-verbal information can occur in three areas.

  1. Motoric integration problem
  2. Problem with integration of visual-spatial-orientation- being unable to form images.
  3. Experiencing difficulty in social and communication problems

Sematic-pregmatic communication disorder: – Individuals suffering from this condition have inability of using and understanding words, phrases and sentences (Happe, 2003). They are also unable to use language in social set up. This disorder is different form others in the spectrum in that:

  1. Children seem to have better socialization skills than others
  2. They tend to have more early delay than others.


Individual with their condition are mainly boys and they have a high capacity of role reading. Kids between the age of 18-24 teachers themselves how to make numbers and at the age of three years they can be able to read than they can talk.


Their symptoms are quite different from those of other spectrum disorders These include:

  1. They have poor ability of reading social clues.
  2. They do not posses ability to utilize self talks
  3. They don’t have good sense of self awareness.
  4. They are poor in generalizing issues.

Therefore, autism condition is really a spectrum disorder since it’s not limited to specific set of values but instead it manifests itself in different perspectives and t hey varies infinitely with the symptoms presented by the symptoms of each of the spectrum disorders.

By studying though the symptoms and manifestation of these conditions, they clearly portray a distinct difference in each condition but a set of conditions with similar effect in human brain but different manifestation of symptoms.


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Bob Gates, (2003), learning Disabilities, Elsevier Health Science: New York.

Chantal Sicile-Kira, (2004), Autism spectrum disorder: Complete guide to understand, perigee, United States. Web.

Comodeca, M. Goosses, FA (2005) Aggressive, Social, Cognition, anger, sadness in bullies and victims, Journal of child psychology an psychiatry, Vol 49 issue 1, pg 17-20.

Faith Uta, (2003) Autism: Explaining the enigma Blackwell, United State.

Happe, F (1989) Autism: Introduction to psychological Theory, UCL Press London.

Liz Anderson, Poly Emmons, (2005) Understanding Sensory disfunction, Jessica Kingsley: London. Web.

Mary De chesnay (2005) caring for Vulnerable, John and Betlett: United state. London.

Peter Verneulen, Introducing Children and young people with autistic Jessica Kingsley: London. Web.

Stan Goff (2004) Full Spectrum Disorder, Soft Skull: New York.

Sue Larkey, (2006), Practical Sensory programs for children with autism spectrum disorder, Jessica Kingsley: London. Web.

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