The video below is the section for Autism from Part 2 of TSM’s lecture series on DSM-5 and the EPPP, followed by a transcript. This lecture series aims to equip those preparing for the EPPP with everything you need to know about the impact DSM-5 will be having on the EPPP. To watch all of Part 2, click here. To watch Part 1, click here. To register for our webinar series to watch future lectures and discuss your questions with a content expert, click here.
Transcript of DSM-5 EPPP Lecture Video: Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder (in Life Span Development Domain)
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties communicating and interacting in a variety of social contexts, restricted and repetitive behaviors, and early onset of symptoms that ultimately cause clinically significant impairment in everyday functioning. A reliable diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder may be made as early as age 2, although symptoms may be noted before 12 months of age (depending on severity of symptoms).
Autism Spectrum Disorder is the term used to diagnose disorders that were previously classified separately including: autism, asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder NOS, and childhood disintegrative disorder. The term “spectrum” is used with respect to the wide range of manifestations of the disorder that are determined by developmental level, chronological age, and severity of the autistic condition.
The Embedded Figures Test (EFT) may be used as a tool to test for Autism Spectrum Disorder , as people diagnosed with the disorder tend to score higher than the average population. The EFT was first published in 1926 and requires a person to locate geometrical shapes that are hidden in complex diagrams.
The cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder has been related to genetic factors. However, it appears that genetics may simply represent a predisposition, making some children more vulnerable to the effects of the environment, which may trigger Autism Spectrum Disorder. The exact cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder remains unknown.
Heritability estimates for Autism Spectrum Disorder have ranged from 37% to higher than 90%, and approximately 15% of cases appear associated with known genetic mutations. The best established prognostic factors for Autism Spectrum Disorder are the presence or absence of associated intellectual disability and language impairment as well as additional mental health problems. A comorbid diagnosis of epilepsy increases the risk for intellectual disability and lower verbal ability.
In treatment, the first four years of a child’s life are critical. During these years, children are still learning language and their brains are in an early stage of development. The best form of treatment is behavior therapy accompanied with one-on-one attention. In this therapy, children are praised and rewarded immediately after learning appropriate behaviors, such as direct eye contact during play.
Learning language appears to be a key factor for children combating Autism Spectrum Disorder. With therapy, children may be able to learn how to communicate meaningfully and act in socially appropriate ways. They may also have the chance to grow to have a normal life.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
- A neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by difficulties in communicating and interacting in various social contexts, restricted and repetitive behaviors, and early onset of symptoms causing impairment in functioning
- Embedded Figures Test: higher scores than average population
- Cause: genetic factors; predisposition making children more vulnerable to effects of environment which trigger Autism; exact cause remains unknown
- Heritability: 37-90%; 15% of cases associated known genetic mutations
- Prognostic factors: presence/absence of intellectual disability, language impairment, mental health problems; comorbid diagnosis of epilepsy
- Treatment: first four years are critical; behavioral therapy with one-on-one attention
- Learning language a key factor in combating Autism
While the exact cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder remains unknown, research has provided strong evidence that:
A. genetics play a significant role in the development of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
B. environmental factors play a significant role in the development of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
C. trauma before, during, or after birth plays a significant role in the development of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
D. exposure to toxins plays a significant role in the development of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
RATIONALE: Answer A is the correct answer. The cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder has been related to genetic factors. However, it appears that genetics may simply make some children more vulnerable and predisposed to the effects of the environment, which may then trigger Autism Spectrum Disorder.