Autistic Disorder Diagnosis

To receive an Autistic Disorder diagnosis, a child must:

(A) Meet the criteria for impairments in social interaction, impairments in communication, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. An autistic disorder diagnoses requires six or more characteristics from the following lists, with at least two from list 1, and one each from lists 2 and 3:


Impairment in social interaction (must show at least 2 items from this list)

  • Impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors
  • Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  • Lack of attempts to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with others
  • Lack of social or emotional reciprocity

Impairments in communication (must show at least 1 item from this list)

  • Delay in, or lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through other types of communication, such as gestures or mime)
  • Impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with other, for those with adequate language ability
  • Stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
  • Lack of make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level

Restricted, repetitive, or stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, or activities (must show at least 1 item from this list)

  • Encompassing preoccupation with stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • Inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms
  • Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

(B) Show delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas before 3 years of age:

  1. Social interaction
  2. Language as used in social communication
  3. Symbolic or imaginative play

(C) Not better meet the criteria for by Rett's disorder or childhood disintegrative disorder

Adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).