Autism: Nuts & Bots

Autism is a disorder that we hear a good deal about in the media and you are likely to see some kids on the spectrum during your pediatric rotation. Here are the nuts, bolts, and key terms:

  • Autism: impaired social interaction/communication/interests
  • Prevalence: 0.4% of the general population (although I have seen wild variations of this number)
  • More common in males than females (5 to 1)
  • Symptoms generally seen before the age of 3
  • Social sx: lack of peer relationships/failure to use non-verbal social cues
  • Communication sx: absent or weird speech
  • Behavioral sx: preoccupation with repetitive activities, rigid adherence to purposeless rituals, mental retardation (present in 75% of patients with autism), no parent-child bond
  • Physical exam: generally normal, may see results of self-injurious behaviors (biting/head banging)
  • Tx: family counseling, special education, antipsychotics can be considered for agitation

Source: Psychiatry for Medical Students and Residents by Nabell Kouka, MD, DO, MBA
Pic source: http://peteking.house.gov/issues/autism