Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (including Asperger’s Syndrome)

Altogether Autism Takiwatanga provides one of the most useful descriptions of what autism is: “Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that affects how people perceive the world, how they think and behave and how they communicate and interact with others. Put simply, autistic people see, hear, and feel the world differently to other people”.

When it comes to diagnosing ASD, we use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (also referred to as the DSM-5). The DSM-5, developed by the American Psychiatric Association, is used internationally by health care professionals as one of the two means of diagnosing developmental and mental health disorders. In summary, the DSM-5 describes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as being a persistent impairment of reciprocal social communication and social interaction, AND having some symptoms of restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities (this can include heightened or reduced sensitivity to your environment, such as heightened sensitivity to noise, visual stimuli, smells, tastes, textures or temperatures).

 Asperger’s Syndrome, ‘pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified’, childhood degenerative disorder, and autism spectrum disorder, have all been combined into the singular disorder of ASD with the DSM-5. This was due to research and more awareness that all of these disorders share a common similarity of symptoms, with persistent difficulties in social communication/interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour (along with sensory issues being considered in assessment). The only difference is with the severity of those difficulties, and how a person responds to them.

 If you want to know if it is worth your while to seek an autism diagnosis, then try this screener: RAADS 14 by JM Eriksson, LM Andersen, & S Bejerot (2013). Please note that a screener is not for diagnosis. It is only meant to indicate whether you have some of the relevant traits and may help you decide whether it’s worthwhile to seek an assessment.