What is Autism

What is autism?

The story of autism – that ever so puzzling developmental disorder – has become very substantial indeed. We have seen a vast amount of research into all aspects of autism, and the building of a solid knowledge base to guide clinical and educational practice. These days most people know something about autism and its characteristic behavioural, cognitive and communicative impairments, even if they are not familiar with details of diagnosis. After major shifts in thinking and as a consequence of the influence of research findings, iterations of DSM and ICD, which reflect contemporary views of the disorder, have varied over the decades and have affected diagnostic practice in autism. Current views are generally towards acceptance of the concept and the diagnostic term of ‘autism spectrum disorders’ (ASD). This can better represent and encompass the notable individual differences within a population of children termed autistic, and which undermine tidy categorical systems. Although we agree on the core problems in social understanding and interaction, in communication, imagination, and in restrictive interests, children show very individual profiles and vary in symptoms, severity, and level of functioning. Thinking about autism as involving a spectrum of conditions is an advance in our thinking and much better represents the variety of manifestations of autism that we see, rather than trying to fit children into rigid diagnostic boundaries and boxes.
Some interesting factors in those less aggressive can be the ability to think in pictures which is a massive advantage for some people.