The main three issues faced by individuals with an autistic disorder are characterized by social interaction, communication, and repetitive/stereotyped behavrior. These are the areas that are recognized as difficulties for individuals with autism.
According to the DSM-IV-TR, this is the criteria for diagnosing an Autistic Disorder:
A. A total of six (or more) items from 1, 2, and 3, with at least two from 1, and one each from 2 and 3.
1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
- Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction.
- Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
- Lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest).
- Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.
2. Qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:
- Delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime).
- In individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others.
- Stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language.
- Lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level.
3. Restricted repetitive and steretyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
- Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
- Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals.
- Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping, twisting, or complex whole-body movements).
- Persisten preoccupation with parts of objects.
B. Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years:
- Social interaction
- Language as used in social communication
- Symbolic or imaginative play
Disclaimer: This is just the diagnostic criteria, to receive an actual diagnosis, a team of trained specialists must be consulted to administer an assortment of tests to come to a final conclusion.. Just because an individual may exhibit some of the above characteristics does not mean that an autism diagnosis is the explanation.