Autism is a scary word to many. When most people think of autism, they think of “classic autism” as portrayed in old movies and descriptions of children sitting alone in a corner rocking, and who frequently developed little language and had tremendous difficulty interacting with others and learning a wide range of skills.
The definition of autism has changed considerably and today the term covers a much broader group of individuals, including individuals with language and average to above-average intelligence. In the diagnostic manual used by doctors and psychologists in the United States, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, Text Revision (DSM-IV, TR), what we often call autism spectrum disorders is technically under the umbrella diagnostic category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).
As one might imagine, this is not a particular “popular” phrase either. However, it is an important phrase-because we need to recognize that an autism spectrum disorder significantly affects many aspects of functioning. The most common autistic spectrum disorders are Autistic Disorder (autism), Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger’s Disorder. Sometimes doctors say that a child has PDD; however, PDD is not a specific diagnosis. In all likelihood it means that the doctor believes that the child has one of the pervasive developmental disorders. Continue reading