Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder characterized by impairment in reciprocal social interaction, impairment in communication, and the presence of repetitive and stereotypic patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities. The onset of symptoms is typically before the age of 3 years, and early intervention is an important part of treatment. The severity of impairment as well as the pattern of impairments varies from individual to individual, which is why diagnosticians refer to a “spectrum.”
Impairment in social interaction ranges from difficulty initiating and maintaining interaction, impaired ability to recognize and experience emotions and difficulty processing and appreciating the thoughts and feelings of others. Communication deficits range from no useful form of communication to very advanced language abilities, but little ability to use language in a social manner. Repetitive and stereotypic behaviors include behaviors such as complex rituals, extreme difficulty adapting to change and transition, and unusual movements such as hand flapping or whirling.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a single disorder described in the recently released fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The diagnostic category no longer includes separate diagnoses for Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. The DSM-5 also includes a related, but distinct, diagnostic category of Social Communication Disorder.
Once thought to be very rare, autism spectrum disorders are estimated to occur in as many as one in every 68 people.
How are high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorder different?
The Westview School specializes in the education of high-functioning children with ASD. You may be wondering what distinguishes a child as "high-functioning." Individuals with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder typically have near-average to above-average intelligence but may struggle with issues related to social interaction and communication. Of course, we recognize each child is different, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" diagnosis. The Westview School staff can help determine if the school will be a good fit for your family. Even if Westview is not the right school for your child, it is part of the school's mission to help you find another setting where your child can flourish. If you need help assessing your child's needs, our team of experts at The Stewart Center clinic can help you make more informed decisions about your child's education and your family's well-being. Learn more about The Stewart Center
Autism Internet Modules - AIM is designed to provide high-quality information and professional development for anyone who supports, instructs, works with, or lives with someone with autism. Each module guides you through case studies, instructional videos, pre- and post-assessments, a glossary, and much more. AIM modules are available at no cost.
The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder - The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder is a multi-university center to promote the use of evidence-based practice for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. While this site is geared toward professionals, there is also a wealth of information for caretakers and families about evidence-based practices and ways to translate research into practice.
Autism Speaks - Autism Speaks is a world-wide ASD science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism. Their mission is to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorder and advocate for the needs of individuals with ASD and their families.
The Hanen Centre - The Hanen Centre is committed to helping parents, caregivers, early childhood educators and speech-language pathologists promote the best possible communication skills in young children. Their site offers helpful information for parents and caregivers about early intervention in language delays and tips to help parents promote their child’s social, language, and literacy skills in everyday situations.