- Impairment in social interaction
- Impairment in communication
- Restricted interest
Qualitative impairment in social interaction. If a person has at least two of the following characteristics that might raise a red flag:
- Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction. Examples:
- Laughing, crying, showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
- Little or no eye contact
- Not responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf although hearing tests in normal range.
Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people. Examples:
- lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people
- Autistic children may find it difficult to interact with their own age group and may prefer to interact with adults (or less commonly – with babies).
- Lack of social or emotional reciprocity. Examples:
- Not actively participating in simple social play or games
- Difficulty in mixing with others
- May not want to cuddle or be cuddled
- Repetition of own message and responses that are inappropriate to the messages communicated from the people involved in the interaction
- preferring solitary activities, or involving others in activities only as tools or "mechanical" aids, i.e.:
- Prefers to be alone; aloof manner
- Choose solitary activities that do not require interaction with others (i.e.: puzzles, beading)
B. IMPAIRMENT IN COMMUNICATION
Qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:
- Delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime)
- Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
- Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words
- May also lead the person to what they want instead of using gestures (hold the person’s hand and bring them to where they wan to show them something)
- Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
- In individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
- Stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
- Lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level
C. RESTRICTED INTEREST
Now that’s where the fun begins. While the other behaviours may also be common to other conditions, such as language or developmental delay, this is where all the cliché autisistic beahaviours show off the most. Each individual will of course have their own restricted interest, and these can change throughout the years. But nevetheless, this is what makes autism look so special to the laymen. From the outside, these could even be perceived as charming egocentric personality traits. In reality, they are a method in which the autistic person is trying to make their own life a bit more stable, and put order in an otherwise extremely chaotic world. The restricted interest bring a sense of order and predictability, which is calming and centering.
Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least two of the following is a reason to be paying close attention and seeking help or diagnosis for your child:
1. Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
- Extreme interest in particular subject busses, trains, birthday cakes, pumpkins, etc.
- Obsessive counting or spelling
- Inappropriate attachments to objects
2. Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
a. Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
b. Repeat the same behaviour over and over again
c. Sustained odd play
- Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms, i.e.:
- Hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements
- Slapping or pinching or biting hands or other repetitive self-hurting behaviours
- Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects, i.e.:
a. Spinning objects
b. Extreme attention to particular details or belongings of a person rather than to the whole person – i.e. a person’s shoes or hair or zippers, etc.
c. Opening and closing doors or containers, flicking lights, etc.
Characteristics of Autism
Pumpkin Blog for more details about Early Signs of Autism, and more personal stories.