WHAT IS AUTISM ?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that causes impairment in a person’s development in language & communication, social skills, play skills and adaptive functioning skills, making it hard for people with autism to relate to the outside world. Signs of autism can be detected as early as 18 months old.
People with autism are always misunderstood as being very naughty, defiant, rude, less intelligent, and the like but many do not know that people with autism are different from the other children. Children with autism are unable to learn in the same way as other normally developing children, hence, parents or educators will find them very hard to teach.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Ed.), also known as DSM-5, “People with ASD tend to have communication deficits, such as responding inappropriately in conversations, misreading nonverbal interactions, or having difficulty building friendships appropriate to their age. In addition, people with ASD may be overly dependent on routines, highly sensitive to changes in their environment, or intensely focused on inappropriate items. Again, the symptoms of people with ASD will fall on a continuum, with some individuals showing mild symptoms and others having much more severe symptoms. This spectrum will allow clinicians to account for the variations in symptoms and behaviors from person to person.”
In 2014, the U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified that 1 out of 68 children have been diagnosed with ASD. In the Malaysia context, according to System Maklumat Orang Kurang Upaya (SMOKU), the latest statistics tabulated in year 2008 indicate that 1 in every 625 children is diagnosed with ASD, and it is believed that the figure is under reported due to lack of awareness of the diagnostic criteria in the Malaysian community.
It was also found that autism is three to four times more common among boys than girls. The symptoms, however, tend to be more severe for girls.
The diagnostic criteria (based on DSM-5):
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