Autism spectrum disorder is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child's ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These issues cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is now defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a single disorder that includes disorders that were previously considered separate — autism, Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.
The term "spectrum" in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. Although the term "Asperger's syndrome" is no longer in the DSM, some people still use the term, which is generally thought to be at the mild end of autism spectrum disorder.
The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is rising. It's not clear whether this is due to better detection and reporting or a real increase in the number of cases, or both.
While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, intensive, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
Jun. 03, 2014
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/autism/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Volkmar F, et al. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2014;53:237.
- LaBlanc LA, et al. Behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2012;59:147.
- Autism spectrum disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Weissman L, et al. Autism spectrum disorder in children and adolescents: Complementary and alternative therapies. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Learn the signs — Act early: Concerned. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/concerned.html. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Autism spectrum disorder. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.psychiatry.org/dsm5. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- A parent's guide to autism spectrum disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/a-parents-guide-to-autism-spectrum-disorder/what-are-the-symptoms-of-asd.shtml. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Augustyn M. Terminology, epidemiology, and pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Bridgemohan C. Surveillance and screening for autism spectrum disorder in primary care. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Cheuk DKL, et al. Acupuncture for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007992.pub2/abstract. Accessed March 3, 2014.
- American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement: Sensory integration therapies for children with developmental and behavioral disorders. Pediatrics. 2012;129:1186.
- Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs): Do vaccines cause autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/topics.html. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Autism fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Highlights of changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.psychiatry.org/dsm5. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Chelation: Therapy or "therapy"? National Capital Poison Center. http://www.poison.org/current/chelationtherapy.htm. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
- Patterson MC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 24, 2014.
- Tervo RC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 28, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.