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  5. Introduction to Autism
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  7. 1.1. Describe the following social and communication disorders;...

1.1. Describe the following social and communication disorders; autistic spectrum condition, Asperger syndrome, and high-functioning autism (HFA)

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This page is designed to answer the following questions:

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When working with individuals with autism, it is useful to understand the following terms.

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Autistic Spectrum Condition

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Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) is an umbrella term for autism. In recent history, it has also been known as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), however, this term is less used now because the label ‘disorder’ can be perceived as stigmatising.

The main symptoms of ASC are social and communication difficulties and repetitive and restrictive behaviours, however, these may manifest differently across individuals. It is a spectrum condition because individuals with autism can experience different difficulties with varying degrees of intensity.

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It is a lifelong condition that is present from birth.

Asperger Syndrome

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Asperger Syndrome is a form of mild autism. It used to be categorised as a separate diagnosis but these days people with symptoms of what was Asperger Syndrome will be diagnosed as having ASC. This is because the diagnosis criteria for ASC and Asperger’s were very similar in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV), which meant that there was not a consistent classification among practitioners. With the release of the DSM-V in 2013, Asperger Syndrome was removed and classed as being diagnosed with ASD instead. However, many individuals that were previously diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome prefer to keep this diagnostic label as it has become part of their identity.

High-Functioning Autism (HFA)

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High-functioning autism is not a medical term but it is often used to describe autistic individuals that have not experienced delays with speech, language or cognition but have difficulties with communication and social interaction. Individuals diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome are often said to have high-functioning autism.

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