What is now termed Autism Spectrum Disorder was historically made up of multiple distinct disorders (i.e., autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder–not otherwise specified, and Asperger disorder). In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), all of these disorders are combined into one, termed autism spectrum disorder.
Autism spectrum disorder is a complex heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social reciprocity in addition to repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. Language and cognitive impairment may co-occur.
Onset of symptoms is in early childhood, and the disorder is usually thought to be lifelong. The most recent estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is that 1 in 68 children has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. It is also known to have a higher incidence in boys (4:1 male to female ratio). The clear male preponderance has not yet been fully explained but likely reflects genetic and hormonal factors.
Despite intense research efforts, the exact pathophysiology remains largely unknown but is believed to involve a complex interplay between genetics and environmental factors.
Child Neurologists can play an important role in diagnosing autism spectrum disorder according to clinical criteria through a comprehensive evaluation that includes a thorough medical and developmental history, behavioral and play observations, and a review of standardized cognitive and language evaluations. Child Neurologists are also responsible for investigating etiologies, recommending and advocating for appropriate behavioral and educational interventions, and identifying and often managing comorbidities.
REFERENCE: CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology: February 2018
Dr. Germano Falcao
Dr. Germano Falcao is a Mayo Clinic Trained Pediatric Neurologist who has a passion to care for children with neurological disorders and give support to their families. He is a compassionate and experienced physician, a published author, and a professor who specializes in areas involving Seizures and Epilepsy; Headaches and Migraine syndromes; Neurodevelopment Disorders; ADHD and Autism Evaluation.