Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a group of disorders that are characterized by difficulties in social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors. These are present in varying degrees in individuals; criteria for ASD is outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5).
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ASD is identified in approximately 1 in 68 children. ASD is 4-5 times more common among boys than girls. Much effort is currently directed toward locating the cause of ASD. Researchers have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with ASD. Environmental stresses appear to increase a child’s risk such as advanced parental age, maternal illness during pregnancy and others seem to play a role. The diagnosis of ASD is best made by individuals with expertise in ASD. Clinical psychologists and physicians are most likely to make a diagnosis frequently with a team of experts. Each individual with ASD is unique and effective intervention is individualized for that person’s unique strengths and challenges.