Autism Spectrum Disorder
“Autism” (or “autism spectrum disorder” also known as “ASD”) refers to a disorder currently diagnosed through symptoms, which involve difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
Until the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, the autism spectrum included five distinct subgroups: autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. Under DSM-5, all autism disorders are merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.
Symptoms for autism typically appear between 10-18 months of age. Unfortunately, the average age of diagnosis is 4-years-old. A diagnosis is usually made by a developmental pediatrician. Typically, there is a waiting list for appointments to get this diagnosis.
The rate of autism has increased dramatically over the past two decades. When Project HOPE Foundation first started, the rate was 1 in 2,500. The current rate is 1 in 68 children, 1 in 42 boys. Although we now have better diagnostics and increased awareness, these improvements do not account for the marked increase.