* autism

An Update on Autism -- Perspectives and Treatment

Andrew N. Wilner, MD


An Autism Update: Introduction

Autism is a common disorder of children that presents with a spectrum of neurobehavioral and cognitive disorders, particularly problems with socialization, communication, and repetitive behaviors. There are no biologic markers for autism. The diagnosis is clinical, based on criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV).[1] Lack of timely development of language, or regression in communication skills, are indications for an evaluation for autism (Table 1). Multiple diagnostic tools are available to assist clinicians in the assessment of a child with suspected autism (Table 2).

Table 1. Absolute Indications for Autism Evaluation

No babbling, pointing, or other gesture by 12 months
No single words by 16 months
No 2-word spontaneous (not echolalic) phrases by 24 months
Any loss of any language or social skills at any age

Data from the American Psychiatric Association.[1]

Table 2. Diagnostic Tools

Diagnostic Parental Interviews
The Gilliam Autism Rating Scale
The Parent Interview for Autism
The Pervasive Developmental Disorders Screening Test-Stage 3
The Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised
Diagnostic Observation Instruments
The Childhood Autism Rating Scale
The Screening Tool for Autism in 2-Year-Olds
The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic

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