Autism Spectrum Disorder
Christopher Gillberg's overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) along with frequency, causes and possible features.
Autism is a disorder/variation of brain function with symptoms that appear early in life, generally before the age of three. Children with autism have problems with social instinct and interaction, communication, imagination and behaviour. Autistic traits persist into adulthood, but vary in severity. Autistic traits without additional impairment is probably quite common in the general population.
Autism manifests itself in difficulties in relating to and communicating with others resulting in social isolation. People with autism can often be perceived as if they live in a world of their own.
Other terms used to describe autism spectrum disorders:
Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC)
Autism Continuum Disorders
Asperger syndrome is a condition similar to autism but without clinically significant language delay after the toddler years. Language, however, is still used in a stilted and stereotyped manner. People with Asperger Syndrome usually have no general cognitive delay, meaning their overall IQ is usually in the normal range or above. Some authorities make a distinction between Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism (HFA), but most do not.
Many experts argue that autism and Asperger syndrome are the same disorder, only separated by language difficulty and lower IQ in the former diagnostic group. In the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) the two have been merged into one category, autism spectrum disorders.
About 1% of children and almost as many adults have autism or Asperger syndrome or another autism spectrum disorder. Boys are affected more frequently than girls, but many girls (and women) currently go unrecognized/are misdiagnosed.
Autism/Asperger syndrome is often hereditary, and a close relative is very often affected by similar (albeit more or less severe) problems. Just as with ADHD, autism may follows in the footsteps of being born very prematurely or of having been exposed to environmental risks in fetal life or during the first few years. In some instances autism can be seen as the extreme end of normally distributed empathy skills in the general population.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are characterised by difficulties in three main areas. Known as the triad of impairment, they are:
In the DSM-5 the two first impairments have been merged to social interaction and social communication.
• Apparent inability to make sense of the world around them
• Lacking imagination/creativity
• Inability to understand other people’s feelings, thoughts, needs
• Obsessive interest in one subject/object
• Repetitive behaviour including repetitive questioning
• Difficulty accepting changes in routine
• Poor planning and organisational skills
• Speech and language difficulties
• Impairment in use of non-verbal communication – eye contact, facial expressions, body posture, gestures
• Strange or unusual reactions to sensory stimuli
Research projects on Autism Spectrum Disorders
Our researchers discuss their research projects on Autism Spectrum Disorders
More on Autism Spectrum Disorder
Recently published research on Autism Spectrum Disorder
ASD with ADHD vs. ASD and ADHD alone: a study of the QbTest performance and single-dose methylphenidate responding in children and adolescents BMC Psychiatry (2022)
A Unifying Theory for Autism: The Pathogenetic Triad as a Theoretical Framework
Social scene perception in autism spectrum disorder: An eye-tracking and pupillometric study
Assessing autism in females: The importance of a sex-specific comparison
HLA Polymorphism in Regressive and Non-Regressive Autism: A Preliminary Study
The functional impact of cognition in adults with autism spectrum disorders.
Autism needs to be considered in children with Down Syndrome.
Etiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Autistic Traits Over Time
Autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children with cerebral palsy: results from screening in a population-based group
Anorexia nervosa and autism: a prospective twin cohort study
GNC blog entries on autism
- Create opportunities in daily activities for toddlers with autism
- Language disorders and autism – what is what or is it both
- What is happening to autism diagnoses – and why?
- Defendants with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Courtroom: Considerations and I…
- What do you know about autism?
- Siblings of children with autism – heroes with needs of their own
- Dean Falk versus Herwig Czech: Asperger was not a Nazi
- Gone Asperger Gone?