chapter  1
17 Pages

Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism comes from the Greek word autos, meaning self, and was intended to describe an extreme withdrawal of oneself from one's social surroundings. Autism is a profound and poorly understood developmental disorder that severely impairs a person's abilities, particularly in the areas of language and social relations. In 1979, the hypothesis of a wide spectrum of autistic conditions, including children with both autism and mental retardation, was proposed. Autism is only one condition considered to be a part of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and cases within the spectrum may range from persons who have severe mental retardation and absence of speech to those with normal intelligence and normal structural language. ASD has been identified in growing numbers throughout the world. The spectrum crosses all racial, ethnic, cultural and social boundaries. However, the characteristics of ASD increase the risk of accidental death and complicate the acquisition of appropriate medical care.