Do you suspect your child may have autism? Varying degrees of autism exist and are often related to the IQ level of the child, with those of higher IQ being less severely affected by the disorder. However, a diagnosis of autism requires the child to satisfy the following criteria:
A. A total of six or more items from (1), (2) , and (3), with at least two from (1), and one each from (2) and (3):
1. Noticeable impairment in social interaction in at least two of the following:
a) cannot maintain eye-to-eye gaze, poor use of facial expression and gestures appropriate to social interaction (i.e. resists holding hands)
b) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to the age of the child
c) lacks spontaneous seeking to share achievements, enjoyment, or interests ( e.g. doesn’t show or bring objects to show significant others)
d) unable to show empathy with others (e.g. cannot share the joy of others, or pain suffered by others)
2. Impairment in communication as shown by:
a) delay or absence of spoken language
b) when speech is present, there is an inability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
c) repetitive use of language (e.g. “conversation” will often comprise of repeating what the other person has said with no real input from the child)
d) lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitation appropriate to child’s age.
3. Restrictive, repetitious and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as shown by at least one of the following:
a) a preoccupation with a restricted pattern of interest that is abnormal in intensity of focus (e.g. being preoccupied with the logo of a toy, tracing it over and over, drawing it, placing other objects to resemble the shape of the logo, and focusing on the logo and ignoring the toy).
b) an inflexible adherence to specific, non-functional routines (e.g. the child will eat with one particular spoon only, from the one side of the bowl, at the same side of the table.
c) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g. hand-flapping or finger twisting).
d) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects, rather than the object as a whole.
If you believe your child fulfills many of the above criteria, please seek advice from a psychologist, pediatrician, or child psychiatrist who specializes in autism and other allied disorders.