There are two main classification systems used by practitioners in the UK, the (ICD-10), which is a medical classification list by the World Health Organisation and the DSM-5 - the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association. In recent years the DSM-5 has removed some of the previous ‘classifications’ of autism and it is likely the UK will follow.
In recent year, the DSM 5 (the diagnostic manual used by psychiatrists in the USA) has changed the classification names for autism spectrum disorder, removing terms such as ‘Asperger’s’.
As the UK manual (the ICD-10) normally follows the DSM 5, it is likely that ‘autism spectrum disorder’ will become the commonly given diagnostic term.
Currently, as of 2018, the following are subtypes of autism are recognised within the UK
In the previous classification, the diagnosis was given when there were the difficulties characteristic of autism, but without the delay in speech or cognitive development.
Asperger’s syndrome has been removed from the DSM 5 as a diagnostic category and is now included within the autism umbrella term. Whilst it still remains in the ICD-10 (the manual that UK psychiatrists use) there is general consensus that the term may be removed in the future.
The changing terminology is often confusing for autistic people and their families alike and can lead some to question what impact it will have on them, if any. The important thing to know is that autism is an umbrella term and considered to be a spectrum disorder (meaning severity of characteristics can vary between individuals).
PDA is a behavioural profile within autism and although there is some contention as to how it falls within the autism umbrella, those with pathological demand avoidance share many of the same characteristics of autism – social communication, interaction and repetitive and restricted behaviours.
Children with PDA have a deep anxiety about not being in control of a situation and having demands placed on them. Their anxiety will play out in their behaviours which can include:
Dr Krishnan went over and above to be able to support our child. She was very friendly and approachable, we felt completely at ease during the assessment and her report was very thorough.
Over the years there has been a great deal of research about the prevalence of autism in girls versus boys – results ranging for boys being twice as likely to ten times as likely to have an autism diagnosis.
Part of this is due to historical reasons – initially it was only believed that boys could be autistic, but over time this belief has stopped and now it is understood that autism does not discriminate on gender.
That said, in general, girls are recognised as being naturally more able socially than boys and hence can mask their difficulties better. They also present more subtly and therefore can be more difficult to recognise. Below are some of the common areas that autistic girls and boys can differ on – but some symptoms are the same for both.
We know that the autism symptoms change and develop over time and puberty can often be a very difficult time for autistic teenagers, as not only does a teenage brain develop at a fantastic rate, but a teenager’s body develops and changes, which can be hugely distressing for an autistic young person.
Finding a clinician who understands the complexities of autism and is aware that often symptoms can be different between the sexes is key to ensuring your daughter receives the right diagnosis. We can help.