Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of mental development disorders, which are called autism in short. Autism is not only “one”. It is a group of disorders, which have different symptoms and consequences. Experts define it in various ways:
AUTISM IS A MENTAL IMPAIRMENT, which
- causes a problem to select and understand information to an individual
- affects individual’s communication with others and their perception of the world and other people
- impairs child’s mental development in communication, social interaction and imagination
How common is it?
1 in 100
No long ago autism was considered a rare disorder, connected with a lot of myths. However, the recent research has confirmed that autism is more common than we thought. According to the latest statistics from 2012 every hundredth man is affected by autism in Europe.
How many people with the ASD diagnosis live in Slovakia?
There are not any publicly available statistics on the number of people with the ASD diagnosis in Slovakia. However, if we consider the fact that there is one man with an autism spectrum disorder per 100 inhabitants, we will get the number 54,297 according to the census in 2010.
What types of autism do we know?
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are also referred to as pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). The collocation PERVASIVE DISORDER means that mental abnormalities pervade into all areas of thinking and to a different extent they are a pervasive feature of behaviour in all situations.
The classification of the types of the autism spectrum disorders is based on several points of view. The first examines the disorders according to social behaviour and recognizes the following 3 types:
1. RESERVED BEHAVIOUR
The individual does not feel well in a group, they avoid people actively, contact with the surrounding may be stressful for them.
2. PASSIVE BEHAVIOUR
The individual does not look for contact with others, they avoid them.
3. ACTIVE, BUT STRANGE BEHAVIOUR
They accept the company of others, but they exhibit unusual behaviour in social interaction (e.g. they ask stereotyped questions).
According to the diagnostic criteria of the International Health Organization the autism spectrum disorders are classified as follows:
- evident before the age of 3 years
- abnormalities in social interaction, communication
- repetitive behaviour
- evident after the age of 3 years
- abnormalities might not be present in all three categories
- loss of functional hand movements
- repetitive hand wringing and squeezing
- insufficient chewing and excessive salivation and tongue protrusion
- epileptic seizures may occur
- severe mental impairment
- girls suffer from it, boys with this syndrome die before or just after birth
Another childhood disintegrative disorder
- the individual develops normally before the onset of the diagnosis (approx. by the age of 2 years)
- loss of the earlier obtained skills (language, play, social skills, bladder control) after the onset of the diagnosis
- characteristic abnormalities in communication, social interaction and repetitive behaviour patterns occur
Overactive disorder associated with mental retardation and stereotyped movements
- it presents in children with severe mental retardation with IQ below 50
- they are the children who have problems with hyperactivity and attention
- frequent stereotyped behaviour
- such children do not respond to psychical stimulation
- developmental delays are the accompanying symptoms
- in comparison with autism language and cognitive development are not delayed
- abnormalities in social interaction
- stereotyped and repetitive patterns of activities and interests
- normal intelligence, clumsiness
- inability to make eye contact
- lack of interest in developing relations with fellows
- problems to understand and show emotions
Other and unspecified pervasive developmental disorders
- disorders which cannot be included in other classification groups