Autism Diagnostic Criteria

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:

  1. Social interaction
  2. Language as used in social communication
  3. Symbolic or imaginative play

C.  The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett’s disorder or childhood disintegrative disorder

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.


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