Autism Spectrum Disorder is the term used to describe a collection of developmental disorders primarily affecting a child’s ability to communicate and form social relationships. It is a complex neuro-developmental condition. The characteristics and symptoms of ASD fall on a continuum and can range from mild to severe and present in a wide variety of combinations. ASD is three to four times more likely in boys than girls.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is the revised diagnostic term under DSM-V and encompasses the four separate disorders of DSM-IV; Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and the catch-all diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Under the revised DSM-5 criteria, individuals with ASD must show symptoms from early childhood, even if those symptoms are not recognized until later. This criteria change encourages earlier diagnosis of ASD but also allows people whose symptoms may not be fully recognized until social demands exceed their capacity to receive the diagnosis. It is an important change from DSM-IV criteria, which was geared toward identifying school-aged children with autism-related disorders, but not as useful in diagnosing younger children.