PSYC 337 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Measles, Ethylmercury, Limbic System

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Lecture 18 (cont). - Autism
Intro
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) → neurodevelopmental disorder featuring deficits in
socialization, impaired communication, and stereotypical behaviour or interests
First use of the word
Autism → Greek word “autos” (means self)
Bleuler coined the terms autism/autistic to explain someone who withdraws from
the outside world into themself
Also, autismus → to lose a relationship with external world in favour of
leading a life of one’s own world
Kanner → “Classic autism”
In 1943, used autism to describe 11 children he was working with who responded
in unusual ways to people/environment
The main problem of children with autism have an inability to relate to others
and situations from the beginning of life (i.e., not a sudden break with reality)
Kanner would say the two hallmark features are
Extreme self-isolation
Obsessive resistance to change
“Kanner’s Autism”
Inability to relate to others
Extreme aloneness
Resistance to being picked up/held by parents
Impaired language for communication purposes (e.g. mutism, echolalia)
Obsessive desire for repetition and sameness
Few spontaneous activities (e.g. in play)
Bizarre and repetitive physical movements
Intense fascination with objects (e.g. obsession with cars)
Early specific food preferences
Extreme fear reactions to loud noises
Excellent rote memory in some cases
Asperger’s type
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1944, Hans Asperger described similar condition → children with higher
cognitive skills and overall functioning (intellectually intact), but were
specifically challenged in social understanding
Intense, narrow interests
Poor empathy
Speed unrelated to the topic of conversation
Behavioural outbursts
Didn’t understand why people did not behave in ways they wanted
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) → 1908
Marked regression in multiple areas following at least 2 years of normal
development
DSM-IV
At least 2 years of normal development
Significant loss of previously acquired skills in at least 2 areas of
development
No specific medical cause/neurodegenerative syndrome
Deficits in social, communication, and restricted repetitive and
stereotyped patterns of behavior that would be typical of autistic disorder
More common in boys, less common than autism as typically described
It is a very rare diagnosis, and it is distinguished from autism by that specific
period of regression
Rett’s disorder
Genetic disorder caused by the mutation of MECP2 gene on X chromosome)
Typically lethal in male fetuses, affects about 1/12-15k female births
Development of multiple specific impairments after a period of normal
development
Normal development in first 5 months (shorter than CDD)
Head circumference decreases relative to how big it should be between 5
and 48 months
Loss of hand skills between 5-30 months, and unusual behaviours (e.g.
hand wringing)
Motor skills deteriorate progressively over time (after those 5 months)
Severe communication deficits
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After onset, interest in social interaction decreases (but develops again
later)
Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD - NOS) →
(DSM-IV)
A subthreshold diagnostic category for people who didn’t really fit other
diagnoses
DSM-IV criteria
Pervasive impairment in social interaction
Pervasive impairment in communication skills OR presence of
stereotyped behaviour, interests, or activities
Presence of impairment that do not meet the criteria for AD because of
Late age of onset
Atypical symptoms
Subthreshold symptoms
All of these diagnoses were informally recognized as parts of the autism “spectrum” in
DSM-IV
Three core characteristics
Reciprocal social interaction
Communication
Restricted and repetitive behaviours
Since the DSM-5, we have 2 core characteristics
Social communication AND social interaction
Restricted behaviour, interests, and activities
Major changes from DSM-IV to DSM-5
No more subtypes of ASD; we specify based on severity along the continuum
We also removed Rett’s disorder, since it has been found to be a genetic disorder
rather than a psychological one
People with genetic disorders mimicking the symptoms of ASD are still
diagnosed with ASD + their genetic disorder
Language and social problems are combined
Symptoms must be present in early childhood
Three levels of severity
DSM-5 diagnostic criteria of ASD
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Document Summary

Autism spectrum disorder (asd) neurodevelopmental disorder featuring deficits in socialization, impaired communication, and stereotypical behaviour or interests. Autism greek word autos (means self) Bleuler coined the terms autism/autistic to explain someone who withdraws from the outside world into themself. Also, autismus to lose a relationship with external world in favour of leading a life of one"s own world. In 1943, used autism to describe 11 children he was working with who responded in unusual ways to people/environment. The main problem of children with autism have an inability to relate to others and situations from the beginning of life (i. e. , not a sudden break with reality) Kanner would say the two hallmark features are. Resistance to being picked up/held by parents. Impaired language for communication purposes (e. g. mutism, echolalia) Intense fascination with objects (e. g. obsession with cars) 1944, hans asperger described similar condition children with higher cognitive skills and overall functioning (intellectually intact), but were specifically challenged in social understanding.

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