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DSM IV: Criteria B

Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks

Today is a discussion on criteria B for an autism diagnosis. On Saturday the diagnosis was introduced. Yesterday, criteria A was dealt with in depth. Today is criteria B which is a delay or impairment prior to age 3 in social interaction, language used to communicate, and symbolic or imaginative play with one of these needing to be met to qualify for a diagnosis.

It is on criteria B that the discussion for the differences and similarities come into play. In last Thursday's article there was a discussion that in the DSM IV autism and Asperger's were listed separately. With the new DSM V coming out they are now grouped under autism spectrum disorders, also known as pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), which includes child disintegrative disorder and Rhett's syndrome. The difference lies in communication. While an autistic child suddenly goes quiet and loses all communication, an Asperger's child is usually using highly developed speech and precocious in their communication skills.

Other signs that your child needs to be medically examined is the lack of social interaction. Even as a young child they will not play games like most children do, focus intently, or are unresponsive to any attempts made to interact with them.

Finally, imaginative play. It is usual for children to use their imagination in play. It is unusual for them to use their imagination and build elaborate worlds from which they play and interact. To interact with your child you are finding you have to go into their elaborate world to play with them and that they will not come out and play with you. Not only that, they generally will became anxious or balk at having to come out and deal with reality. This play can involve all types of what are called stimming behaviors to include continuous sound effects. Some stimming behaviors include arm flapping, rocking, and pacing.

One of the ideal ways to handle their made up world and blend it with reality is find a realistic element within what they have made and introduce it as an alternative activity. For example, if your child is unusually absorbed in vacuums and all things that pertain to them, find old vacuums and give him a place to take it apart and put it back together. Buy books on vacuums, find activities that are practical and fun for your child. You never know but his obsession could become his career. The beauty of their obsessions is their attention for detail. They are finding that these children have a special niche to fill in the world.

This is a resource for the area for support, advocacy, and further education for resources in the community:

Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health


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