A pervasive developmental disorder caused by a physical disorder of the brain appearing during the first three years of life. Symptoms include disturbances in physical, social, and language skills; abnormal responses to sensations; and abnormal ways of relating to people, objects, and events.

In psychology, absorption in fantasy to the exclusion of interest in reality. A symptom of schizophrenia.

A condition developing in childhood, characterised by difficulty in social interaction, language and communication problems, learning difficulties and obsessional repetitive behaviour.

Autism, more recently referred to as autism spectrum disorder, is classified under the umbrella of pervasive developmental disorders, which also includes Aspergers syndrome, Retts, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified. Autism cannot be diagnosed by physiological symptoms or medical testing, but rather is determined by how closely the child’s condition fits certain criteria. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition defines autism as essentially “the presence of significantly abnormal or impaired development in social interaction and communication accompanied by a restricted repertoire of activity and interests” (American Psychiatric Association, 1997).

A type of mental disorder that appears in early childhood, generally before age three, marked by lack of normal social interaction with parents and others, often with resistance to physical and eye contact, and impaired development in many areas, including social skills, language skills, communication skills (see communication skills and disorders), and self- help skills. Though the severity of the disorder differs from child to child, the child’s activities and interests are often sharply restricted, with insistence on sameness in environment and routine. Repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning, head-banging, and hand-twisting, are characteristic, as are stereotypical responses to social situations. Mental retardation is common, and some of the most severely affected tend to develop seizures. This puzzling disorder is presently classified by psychiatrists as autistic disorder, a type of pervasive developmental disorder, but it has previously gone under a variety of other names, including atypical development, symbiotic psycho¬ sis, childhood psychosis, and childhood schizophrenia. Though once assumed to have resulted from poor parental environment, recent studies have indicated nothing of the sort. The causes of the disorder are obscure, though it has been associated with various physical disorders, including maternal RUBELLA, untreated phenylketonuria, celiac sprue, encephalitis, tuberous sclerosis, fragile X syndrome, and lack of oxygen at childbirth.

Abnormal withdrawal into oneself, marked by severe communication problems, short attention span, inability to interact socially, and extreme resistance to change. Children with autism are extremely difficult to teach. Treatment involves specialized education and the use of drugs (e.g., phenothiazines) to control behavior problems and anxiety.

Neuropsychological condition characterized by limited social and communication abilities and rigidly adhering to routines and internal thoughts.

A nervous system disorder beginning in early childhood and characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with communication and imagination, and unusual or limited activities or interests. Doctors classify autism as one of the pervasive developmental disorders. Some individuals are only mildly affected, while others exhibit extremely repetitive, unusual, aggressive, or self- injurious behavior. Some degree of mental retardation occurs in 75 percent of those affected. However, in some people, an inability to communicate and other symptoms conceal a considerable intelligence. Some individuals who have autism possess unique aptitudes that are often quite remarkable, such as musical ability. The term autism spectrum disorder is increasingly used to describe a wide range of symptoms and outcomes.

A disorder, thought to be caused by a brain abnormality, that leads to a lifelong inability to relate in an ordinary way to people and situations. Autism is usually diagnosed before the age of three. It is rare, affecting around 20 people in every 10,000, and is three times more common in boys than in girls. The main features are a profound inability to form social relationships, delayed speech development, and a tendency to perform repeated compulsive actions or rituals. Severe autism is common in those with profound learning difficulties.

In classic psychiatry, mental introversion in which the attention or interest is thought to be focused on the ego. Objective validation of this concept is lacking.

A profound developmental disorder that typically manifests prior to the age of three and significantly impacts a child’s social and cognitive growth.

Autism is a unique disorder characterized by challenges in social interactions, communication difficulties, and limited imagination, accompanied by repetitive behavioral patterns. It primarily affects boys and typically becomes evident within the first year of life, but it is formally diagnosed before the age of 30 months. The exact underlying causes of autism remain unidentified.

In the early stages of life, children with autism may exhibit typical behavior, but as time progresses, they gradually become less responsive to their parents or external stimuli. Forming relationships becomes a challenge, as they tend to avoid eye contact and prefer solitary play. The condition is characterized by a strong resistance to change, making it particularly challenging to teach these children new skills.

During play, autistic children tend to develop rituals and may display a strong attachment to unusual objects or a fixation on a specific idea. Delayed speech is a common characteristic, and the majority of autistic children have a lower intelligence quotient (IQ). Additional behavioral abnormalities can include walking on tiptoes, rocking back and forth, self-injury, episodes of screaming, and hyperactivity.

Individuals with autism typically exhibit normal physical appearance and coordination. Interestingly, some autistic individuals possess a unique and isolated talent, such as exceptional musical ability or an outstanding capacity for rote memory.

Autism is a lifelong condition for which there is currently no cure. However, various interventions can be beneficial in managing the challenges it presents. Specialized education, support services, counseling for families, and, in some cases, behavior therapy (especially to address violent self-injury) can be helpful. Medication is primarily utilized to target specific issues, such as hyperactivity.

The prognosis of autism varies depending on the individual’s intelligence and language skills. The majority of individuals with autism require specialized care to meet their unique needs.

A hallmark of schizophrenia is when an individual becomes introspective and preoccupied with their own thoughts and concerns, often at the expense of engaging with the external realities of life.