Autism Spectrum Disorder

A. General Information

The definition of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Children with autism are less able than other children to interact with the world. Typically, they have deficits in three key areas:

  • Verbal and non-verbal communication,
  • Social awareness and interactions, and
  • Imaginative play (variable interests and behaviors).

To provide a comprehensive definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are separate labels given to children with autism at different points on the autism spectrum. At the least affected end, you will find labels such as, “Asperger’s Syndrome,” “High Functioning Autism,” and “Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified.” At the other end of the spectrum, you will find labels, such as “Autism,” “Classic Autism,” and “Kanner Autism.”

If autism is suspected, you are urged to seek professional advice and not attempt to diagnose your child’s disorder yourself. It requires considerable experience and training to become competent at making such a diagnosis.

B. General information

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) signs and symptoms begin before the age of three and last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with an ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms might not show up until 24 months or later. Some children with an ASD seem to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had.

The Center for Disease Control estimates 1 in 68 children has been identified with ASD. While there’s no proven cure yet for ASD, treating ASD early, using school-based programs, and getting proper medical care can greatly reduce ASD symptoms and increase your child’s ability to grow and learn new skills.

C. Social Security Administration Medical Listing 112.10 – Autistic Disorder and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders:

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes Autism Spectrum Disorder can be disabling. It is listed in Part B of Impairments. A doctor’s diagnosis of autism alone, however, does not constitute a disability. To qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration, you also must show medical documentation of the following for:

1. Autistic disorder, all of the following:

  • Qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction,
  • Qualitative deficits in the development of verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and
  • Markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests.

2. Pervasive developmental disorders, both of the following:

  • Qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction, and
  • Qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity.

Slightly different criteria apply to children under the age of 3. Your representative can help you determine whether your child’s autism is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits under the guidelines of the Social Security Administration.