With autism, developmental impairments are usually evident in the first twelve months of life.
Symptoms of autism cluster around three core features – impaired social interaction, difficulties in communication/language, and a tendency to engage in repetitive or stereotyped behavior.
Two common tools for diagnosing autism are the Autistic Diagnostic Interview (ADI, Couteur et al., 1989) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition (DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association).
Although the criteria are largely the same across these two tools, there are subtle differences. These differences emphasize the fact that autism is a spectrum disorder, and where one chooses to draw the line between what constitutes autistic behavior and what is not is sometimes inconclusive.
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