Here are the 12 symptoms listed within their respective categories:
• Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors
• Failure to develop age-appropriate peer relationships
• Lack of spontaneous seeking to share interests and achievements with others
• Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
Looks can be deceiving. Because many people with autism seem physically healthy, some people — even parents of autistic children — believe the milder forms of autism aren’t real disabilities at all. Outsiders may believe the diagnosis doesn’t excuse poor behavior, and they blame the parents or the child himself for his lack of control. This blame game is unfortunate, because a neurological disability left untreated can have a far-reaching impact on a person’s well-being and ability to achieve potential in life.
• Delay in or lack of spoken language development (with no compensation through alternative modes of communication) in verbal persons
• Marked impairment in conversational skills
• Stereotyped and repetitive use of language
• Lack of spontaneous age-appropriate make-believe or social imitative play
• Preoccupation with at least one stereotyped and restricted pattern of interest to an abnormal degree
• Inflexible adherence to non-functional routines or rituals
• Repetitive motor mannerisms and preoccupation with parts of objects
• Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
Besides showing at least six of these symptoms, your child also needs to show a delay in social interaction, social communication, or symbolic or imaginative play. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and diagnosticians agree that these symptoms generally must occur before the child is 3 years old. A diagnosis of autism can occur later (even up to old age) if it’s clear that the symptoms began before the age of 3.
After looking at the symptoms, criteria, and the vague labels attached, you may begin to think that autism isn’t a very informative label. However, the diagnosis is a starting point for getting treatment. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any medical treatments for autism itself, it has approved treatments for related problems that may occur, such as irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, vitamin deficiencies, and other physical conditions from which autistic people frequently suffer. When you treat those health issues, you can reduce or even eliminate many symptoms.