Concept, Diagnostic Criteria and Classification of Autistic Disorders: A Proposed New Model

Pan Arab Journal of psychiatry 01/2012; 23(2):87-107.


Concepts of autism and autistic spectrum can be difficult to understand to the public as well as untrained professionals. This is reflected in difficulties in diagnosing mild autism; first recognised in adulthood, compared with severe autism; first recognised in childhood. This paper provides a new model of autistic spectrum disorders that is simple and easier to use. It is more in line with established literature about autism, clinical evidence and recent developments in neurosciences. The model has used the Triune Brain Theory to establish the neuropsychological basis for the Object Related, Emotional and Social intelligences. The model suggests that autism is a form of “Socio-Emotional Learning Disability”. Diagnostic criteria include; “core symptoms” that do exist in both severest as well as mildest forms of autism. Other symptoms are included under “associated symptoms”, “compensatory symptoms” and “complications related symptoms”. Autistic spectrum has been classified into Central and Peripheral autism disorders as well as Non-autistic socio-emotional conditions. The difference between Central and Peripheral autism depends on severity of symptoms according to a particular cognitive-clinical scale based on Lezak’s stages of intelligence. In this model Narcissistic Personality Disorder, is part of the autistic spectrum. Evidence from the literature has been summarised and discussed.

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