Autism Spectrum Disorders – What Does the Term "Autism Spectrum Disorder" (ASD) Mean?

Medical professionals often use the term Autism Spectrum Disorders (or ASD for short) to explain the large variety of symptoms, signs and characteristics associated with a diagnosis of Autism.

As we all know, more and more children are getting diagnosed with Autism everyday. According to the Center for Disease Control, Autism now occurs in one out of every 150 individuals. Some researchers account for the increase in Autism due to us better understanding the entire Autism spectrum.

The Autism spectrum, however, is sometimes difficult for parents to understand. Some parents say things like: “My child has Autism, but he does not do that!” or they will ask “My child will interact with other kids, does he still have Autism?” The answer is simply that Autism is a spectrum, but what exactly does this mean?

A spectrum means that there are children with Autism symptoms on one side, the other side, and everywhere in between. For example, let’s take a look at communication and the Autism spectrum. You might have one child on one end of the spectrum that is non-verbal and will only use gestures to tell his or her needs. Then, you might have a child on the other end of the spectrum that can tell you every small detail and then some about his favorite dinosaurs. Both of these children have Autism, but they are on opposite ends of the Autism spectrum for their communication skills.

All of the fundamental deficits of Autism are a spectrum: communication, social skills, and behavior. Each child with Autism has skills that vary on each of the spectrums. Also, all of the types of autistic disorders make up this “Autism spectrum”. The different types of autistic disorders include: Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).