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  • Writer's pictureChristine McCarty

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder…

For me, the word Autism was scary and a bit unclear on what it actually meant. Having Addy diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder forced me to confront my fear as well as understand what Autism Spectrum Disorder actually meant. The below breaks it down for anyone who has struggled with this diagnosis like I did.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn and behave. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.”

In 2013, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), (a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association that healthcare providers use to diagnose mental disorders) changed autism to ASD. ASD folded all the subcategories (e.g. autistic disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and an unspecified form of pervasive developmental disorder) under one umbrella.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people with ASD often have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty with communication and/or interaction with other people

  • Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors

  • Symptoms that affect their ability to function in school, work, and other areas of life

Finally, the term "spectrum" refers to the range of severity related to the aforementioned symptoms.

ASD does not have to be scary. For me, it has been eye opening and life changing. It has made me stop and think outside my comfort zone and approach things/situations with a different perspective. Through this whole process it has made me appreciate the smaller things in life that I used to take for granted. Don’t get me wrong, I am often scared. However, I remind myself every day that Addy sees the world through a different lens and maybe that lens isn’t so scary.

Much love,

Raising Addy

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