What is autism and why do we use ABA?

When is a child diagnosed with autism or diagnosed with a related disorder?

Current definitions of psychological disorders are provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) (1994).
In this manual, the terms pervasive development disorder (PDD) is used to describe a group of childhood disorders with similar behavioural features. Others call this group “autistic spectrum disorders”. The disorders that make up the pervasive developmental disorders are:

(1) autistic disorder,

(2) Asperger’s disorder

(3) childhood disintegrative disorders ,

(4) Rett’s disorder and

(5)
PDD – not otherwise specified.


Autistic disorder is defined by the presence of symptoms in three domains:

(1) impairments in social interaction,

(2) impairment in communication and play, and

(3) the presence of repetitive and restrictive patterns of behaviour.

Social interaction impairments can include poor eye contact, poor nonverbal communication, lack of mutual attention behaviours (showing or bringing things to caregiver, pointing and looking where someone else is pointing), poor awareness of others’ emotions, and poor peer relationships.

Communication and play impairments can include poorly developed language, lack of conversational skills (for one’s age), language that is stereotyped (ie: language that is unusually stereotyped or lacks the quality of make-believe.)
Repetitive and restrictive behaviours include very narrow interests, inflexible adherence to routines or rituals, repetitive motor movements, or preoccupations with parts of objects.

If you are concerned about the development of your toddler please refer to “M-Chat” www.mchatscreen.com or www.firstsigns.org , a tool used the screen young children that are at risk for autism.

This screening tool is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics typically for children between 18 – 24 months of age. The screening tool should be used to alert health professionals for the need of a diagnostics assessment by someone trained in autism spectrum disorders.