Autism Spectrum Disorder can manifest itself in many aspects of an individual’s life. This was displayed in the six videos, in which symptoms in individuals of various ages and severities are present. Although each individual was diagnosed the same, each had different symptoms that came out in various forms. I will be analyzing various symptoms of each individual, and relate them back to the diagnostic criteria that the DSM-5 has laid out.
First is the video “2 Year Old Displaying One of the Early Signs of Autism Hand-Flapping.” The child engages in the self-stimulatory behavior of flapping his hands. This behavior is described in B.1 of the DSM-5, which includes repetitive motor actions (Boucher, 2017). Ian can also be seen focusing on his shadow frequently in the video. According to B.4 of the DSM-5, those with Autism may have an increased fascination to light compared to their neurotypical counterparts (Boucher, 2017). Lastly, Ian fails to respond to his name, nor does he vocally respond to his mother. When the mother says, “Ian! Baby sir” to gain Ian’s attention, Ian does not orient his body towards his mother, nor give eye contact. According to A.1 of the DSM-5, inability to form a back-and-forth conversation a diagnostic criteria of Autism (Autism Speaks, 2013). Examples of these impediments include responding to name, as well as lack of responsiveness in a social setting (Carpenter, 2013).
The second video is “This is Bridgette. This is Autism.” In the video, Bridgette sways back and forth at 3:05, with the simultaneous behavior of twisting her hands. These two behaviors are considered self-stimulatory behaviors. Both are found under B.1 of the DSM-5, in which self-stimulatory and “repetitive hand movements” fall under this category (Carpenter, 2013). The noises that Bridgette is making from :40-:51 while facing the wall are also criteria located under B.1 of the DSM-5. The DSM-5 states that these vocalizations are considered stereotyped and repetitive speech behaviors (Boucher, 2017). These sounds are deep, and reside in the throat (Carpenter, 2013). The largest indicator of the diagnosis in this video can be seen due to the fact that therapy is carried out in the bathroom. This is found in section B.2 of the DSM-5, in which rigidities to routine, as well as an intense fascination with
the sensory stimulation that the bathroom may provide. Bridgette’s climbing and touching of walls and curtains can be supported by the diagnostic criteria of unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment (Boucher, 2017). For example, the cold of the bathroom wall, or the texture of the shower curtains, this sensory interest is present. Although we are not given the reason for therapy being conducted in the bathroom, one can infer that, according to the diagnostic criteria, “excessive adherence to routine” can be seen because otherwise a transition to another room could have occurred (Boucher, 2017).
The third video is “Autism Stimming in the Car”. In this video, it’s observed that as the music is playing, the little boy is taking part in multiple various behaviors. For example, he claps repeatedly while engaging in making high pitched and loud vocalizations. Both of these behaviors can be found in B.1 of the DSM-5. The repetitive clapping is to be considered a repetitive motor movement, while the high pitched vocalization is to be considered a repetitive vocalization (Carpenter, 2013). Since these noises and behaviors are being conducted in response to music, it is fair to consider it as hyper-reactivity to sensory input, which is part of the B.4 diagnostic criteria (Autism Speaks, 2013).
The fourth video is “High Functioning Autism and Sensory Issues – Diana’s World”. First to note is Diana’s sensitivities to touch and taste. She states that they “bug” her. She also says that although she’s sensitive to certain sensory input (such as noises), there are times where she does not feel pain. We can find this in B.4 of the DSM-5, in which both hypo- and hyper-reactivity to sensory input may be present (Boucher, 2017). B.4 also states that one may have aversions to certain senses, as well as high pain tolerance (Carpenter, 2013). Another example arose when Diana described her childhood in which her and her mother would play Harry Potter and Barbie. When they played, it had to be exactly Diana’s way. This is an example of rigidity, which can be found under section B.2 of the DSM-5. The DSM-5 states the child may have excessive resistance to change (Boucher, 2017). The individual may struggle flexibility and tied down to certain rules (Carpenter, 2013). This can also be seen in Diana’s routine of needing to find a rock every single day before school, displaying ritualistic behaviors also apparent in section B.2 (Autism Speaks, 2013). Lastly, Diana said that she has listened songs up to three thousand times, as well
as read multiple books at least thirty times. This is considered “having a fixated interest with abnormal intensity,” which is in section B.3 of the DSM-5 (Boucher, 2017). This section states that the individual may have strong attachments and interests to an extreme extent (Carpenter, 2013).
The fifth video is “Severe Autism Meltdown: Mother Attempts to Restrain Autistic Daughter from Self-Injury.” The most obvious characteristic of this little girl that stood out to me was her inability to express her emotions appropriately. Instead of being able to communicate that she was sad by talking or crying, she also engaged in abnormal and rather aggressive behaviors. These include stomping, screaming, and attempting to hit her chin on her mother. Behaviors such as this fit under section A.2 of the DSM-5, in which there are deficits in communicative behavior that can lead to a deficit in social interaction (Carpenter, 2013). This includes the inability of the individual to communicate in a constructive and effective manner (Carpenter 2013).
The sixth and final video is “Positives About Being an Aspie”. One aspect was her discussion of her music and how ASD individuals have the ability to have such a deep interest and focus on something. After research on the DSM-5, I found it described in section B.3, in which individuals may have fixed interested that are “abnormal in their intensity and focus” (Boucher, 2017). Along with that, she stated that he is extremely sensitive to harmonizations in music and that they are relaxing for her. This ties back into B.4 of the DSM-5, which states that individuals may have increasing sensitivities to particular sounds (Autism Speaks, 2013). Lastly, when she talked, it came to my attention that she spoke in a monotone, non-expressive, and extremely quiet tone of voice. Upon watching the video, I didn’t think much of it; however, after review of the DSM-5, it was concluded that section A.3 that these individuals do may speak with these abnormal volumes and “lack of intonation” (Carpenter, 2013).
Although many of these individuals symptoms can be found under relating criteria of the DSM-5, it is important to note that they are not all are exactly alike. We saw that, for example, Bridgette’s and Ian’s self-stimulatory behaviors displayed themselves in different ways. To conclude, the characteristics of these individuals represent themselves in many behaviors, forms, and intensities.