Definition, prevalence, and behavioral symptoms of autism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a highly heterogenic neurodevelopmental disorder. Prevalence of ASD is 1 in 54 with similar distribution across racial and ethnic categories. The diagnostic criteria for ASD are persistent deficits in social communication and interaction and restricted and repetitive behaviors that interfere with daily functioning. The severity of ASD is differentiated by the level of support required. Milder forms of ASD may be regarded as a neurodiversity rather than a disorder. Language skills are highly variable with approximately a third of persons with ASD being minimally verbal. Other individuals have conversational level spoken language but have difficulty with pragmatics or the functional use of language and interpretation of nonliteral language. Echolalia and overuse of formulaic language may be observed. Externalizing or internalizing behavior problems and difficulty with emotional regulation are frequently experienced by persons with ASD. Abnormal sensory processing including hyper- or hyposensitivity is common. Additional challenges in learning and cognitive functioning beyond the primary weaknesses in social communication and interaction and restricted, repetitive behaviors may be evident. These challenges may occur in attention, motor control, memory, working memory, written language, conceptual reasoning, executive functioning, and cognitive flexibility that affect the academic performance and adaptive functioning of individuals with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Neuroscience of Autism
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780128163931
ISBN (Print)9780128167366
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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