Autism spectrum disorder is not one but a group of disorders. These disorders are characterized by specific signs and symptoms that commonly include repetitive behavior patterns, speech, social skills, and communication challenges. This group of disorders has Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and a specific form of pervasive developmental disorder. It is useful to think of Autism spectrum disorder as a neurodevelopmental disorder. This means that it is a disease in which the development of the brain is different from usual.
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What is the significance of the term “spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder?
The term autism spectrum disorder includes the word “spectrum,” which indicates that patients with ASD present in a non-specific clinical presentation and can present with a range of functional abilities in different patients. This essentially means that different patients show in different ways and that some patients can function normally, and others require assistance to carry out daily living activities.
What type of patients typically have Autism spectrum disorder?
Parents commonly notice ASD within the first three years of life. It is four times more common in boys than girls. According to a major federal agency, Autism spectrum disorder is present in approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States. Autism spectrum disorder is not specific to any specific group, and it occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. The number of cases of Autism spectrum disorder is increasing each year. Current research is not clear if this increase due to a specific cause or due to improved knowledge, leading to higher rates of detecting and diagnosing these conditions.
What are some common signs and symptoms seen in patients with Autism spectrum disorder?
It is useful to think of the typical presentation of Autism spectrum disorder in terms of issues involving the following:
- Difficulties with social interactions and communication
- Presence of repetitive and characteristic behaviors
What is Pervasive developmental disorder?
The pervasive developmental disorder is like and comprises conditions that overlap with Autism spectrum disorder. This is a group of conditions that start at infancy and are often diagnosed by age three. They are characterized by delays in the development of communication and in the patient’s ability to socialize.
What are the different types of Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD)?
There are five main types:
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)
- Typical autism
- Asperger syndrome
- Rett syndrome
- Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD)
Many health professionals and research scientists believe that there is an additional type of PDD that should be included in this list. This specific diagnosis is Pathological demand avoidance (PDA).
What is Pathological demand avoidance (PDA)?
This is a difficult question to answer since it has not officially been defined. It is a term that first appeared in the scientific literature in 2003. It is a relatively recent subtype and has not been formally included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as an official medical diagnosis.
Even though there is limited research on Pathological demand avoidance, it is used to describe the presence of a specific constellation of features, a unique phenotype of PDD present in a patient. Due to little research, these features are not definitive. Due to this ambiguity, many professionals consider it useful to these specific characteristics as a profile.
The main characteristics of patients suspected of having Pathological demand avoidance are their intense desire to avoid demands and expectations that most people are subject to. Patients that display this avoidant behavior usually describe feeling significant levels of anxiety.
Since there is limited research about this new disease, knowledge of its true prevalence is little. Current research suggests that it is a rare type of developmental disease phenomenon.
Can Pathological demand avoidance be diagnosed?
Not yet. It is not yet a unique disease entity. There is growing interest and research into exploring and validating it as a disorder. However, unfortunately, there are significant challenges in identifying and diagnosing Pathological demand avoidance since there is no current clinical or instrument or test to measure it.
If a person suspects that a patient may have Pathological demand avoidance, they should refer to their pediatrician or physician for appropriate assessment or referral to a specialist. They usually take a comprehensive history and observe a patient during the duration of the appointment. This helps them assess a differential diagnosis. And in the case of Pathological demand avoidance, create an accurate Pathological demand avoidance profile for the patient’s specific situation.
What are some of the characteristics of Pathological demand avoidance?
The following characteristics characterize pathological demand avoidance:
- Avoidance to typical demands expected to be performed by an adult
- Use of social strategies to avoid such demands
- The appearance of social ability without social understanding
- Heightened emotions or excessive mood swings
- Comfortability using role or pretend play
- Obsessive behavior that often focuses on people
What is the connection between Autism and Pathological demand avoidance?
On the surface, the relationship between autism pda is understandably confusing since the distinction between the two entities is arbitrary at best. This is compounded by the fact that Pathological demand avoidance is not yet an official diagnostic entity in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual published by the American Psychological Association.
In a general sense, patients with Autism spectrum disorder face significant challenges in communicating and social interaction. In contrast, patients with Pathological demand avoidance report an intense feeling of anxiety in the backdrop of a strong desire to avoid usual demands and expectations. Both disorders result in maladaptive behavior and compromised social interactions, and poor communication. However, the critical distinction for patients with Pathological demand avoidance is avoidant behavior, which may not be a factor in Autism spectrum disorders.
Can a patient have both Autism spectrum disorder and Pathological demand avoidance at the same time?
Yes, such a scenario is one possibility. According to scientific research, it is essential to identify such cases because both disorders can have implications in terms of how it is managed.