In 2000, one in every one hundred and fifty children was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Since then, there has been a drastic increase of the incidence of this disorder. In 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control, autism spectrum disorder occurs in one out of eighty eight children. (CDC, 2013) That is a significant increase over a relatively short period of time. With such an increase, it is important to learn what autism spectrum disorder is and what might cause it.
Autism spectrum disorder is the term used for a group of disorders in brain development. It is a complex disorder and symptoms usually appear before the child is age five. It is called a spectrum disorder because each person is affected differently with different degrees of severity. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2011)
There are three disorders included under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder. They are; autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder- not otherwise specified. Autistic disorder is known as “classic autism”. When you say autism, this is what most people think of. Some of the characteristics include profound language delays, and problems with social skills. Asperger syndrome is similar to the classic autism, but with milder symptoms. People with this disorder will also have problems with social skills. Usually though, they do not have significant language delays. (Autism Speaks, 2014) Pervasive developmental disorder- not otherwise specified, is a classification for people who have certain symptoms of autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome but not the more severe symptoms. The symptoms are milder than those of the other two disorders. (CDC, Facts about ASDs, 2013)
There are three common characteristics of autism spectrum disorder. The first is problems with communication. There are two ways that communication is affected in people with autism spectrum disorder (National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 2012). The first is a pattern of irregular language development. Although, most people with autism do develop language skills, they are generally not at a level of a typically developing person and the progress of their language development is usually slow and irregular. An example of the irregular pattern of speech development seen in autism is Echolalia. Some estimates say that 85% of those with autism spectrum disorder who are verbal with show Echolalia in some form. (Teach Me to Talk, 2008) There are two types of echolalia. Immediate echolalia and delayed echolalia. Immediate echolalia occurs when the child echoes the words immediately after another says them. Delayed echolalia is when a child repeats the words or phrases long after they were originally said. This can occur days, weeks, or even months later.
Another example of irregular speech development is prosody. Webster dictionary defines prosody as the rhythm and pattern of the sounds of language....