Diagnosing autism is an intensely subjective practice, although the DSM IV lists specific criteria that need to be met to reach a postive diagnosis of autism. Autism is diagnosed when a child meets
A) at least six items on the following criteria, with at least two from the first set, and at least one each from the second and third. The criteria are:
1.) impairment of social functioning in one of the following ways
- a. impairment in using eye-to-eye contact, facial expression, body posture and gestures to regulate social interaction
The child may fail to make eye contact when speaking, or openly resist making eye contact when you attempt to engage their gaze. Their facial expressions may be inappropriate to the conversation, or unchanging. They dont display Ã¢â‚¬Ëœnormal body language and gestures. ::
b. does not develop peer relationships appropriate to age
Your child may not seem to Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfit with the other kids in a playgroup. If the other children are playing together and sharing toys, he may be the one sitting in the middle of the group oblivious to them while he pursues his own interests. He doesnt engage in the same type of mirroring, parallel play or interaction as other children his age.
c. does not spontaneously seek to share enjoyment, interests or achievements with others
The child doesnt bring toys to other people to show them, or point out things that are interesting to them. By age 2, most children are trying to share their interests with parents and those around them. When a child never does, its cause for concern.
d. Ã¢â‚¬Ëœlack of social or emotional recipricocity (described as Ã¢â‚¬Ëœnot participating in social activities or games, preferring solitary activities or involving others in activities only as tools or mechanical aids)
The child doesnt engage in social give and take. This one can be confusing especially the part about using others as Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtools or Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmechanical aids. An example may be the child who sits in your lap and rocks without seeming to acknowledge that you exist other than as a seat.
2.) Impairments in communication characterized by:
- a) delay in or total absence of spoken speech without an attempt to compensate by using gestures or signals.
b) in children with speech, the inability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others.
c) stereotyped or repetitive use of language such as echoing words spoken by others or repeating words or phrases compulsively
d) lack of imaginative play or social play that imitates others
3.) restricted stereotyped and repetitive behavior, interests and activities, characterized by:
- a. an abnormal preoccupation with one or more area of interest
b. inflexible insistence on certain rituals or routines
c. stereotyped or repetitive gestures or motions (e.g. hand-flapping, finger flapping, rocking, twisting) that may involve the entire body, or just one part of it.
d. Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
B) Delays or abnormal functioning in one or more of the following:
- 1.) Social interaction
2.) Language for communication
3.) Symbolic or imaginary play
C) The condition doesnt fit Retts syndrome or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder