The term ‘Autism’ is derived from a Greek word ‘autos’ which means ‘self’. Autism is not a mental illness and is different from mental retardation – now called intellectual disability. Autism is known as a ‘spectrum disorder,’ because symptoms can range from a mild learning and social disability to more complex needs with multiple difficulties and often very unusual behaviour.
Autism results in qualitative impairments. Perhaps the most confusing feature of autism is an uneven skill development. Eg. If a child were at the biological age of 4 years, his overall development would be of a 4-year child. In autism however, a 4-year child, may have speech development like that of a 2-year, gross motor skills developed like an 4-year, fine motor skills of a 3-year and self-help skills of a 3-year child. So a person is able to do basic arithmetic but not speak; or may know the alphabet, numbers and nursery rhymes, but may not be able to ask or tell his/her needs or desires.
Because of all these characteristics, no two people on the autistic spectrum look or behave the same.
Core Clinical features:
Impaired social communication and interaction-
- Non verbal communication
- Verbal Communication
- Social relationships- that is restricted and repetitive behaviour, interests and activities- Stereotyped behaviour and insistence on sameness.
India – Every 6 children out of 1000 live cases, total cases = 8,51,00 (highest in the world)
World average = 1:54
Boys 4 times more than girls