Module 3: Autism Spectrum Disorders

Social Withdrawal Problem

Diagnostic code: V40.3
Adapted from DSM-PC. Refer to DSM-PC for further description.

Children and adolescents differ in their ability to interact socially and in their desire to do so. Some demonstrate an inability or lack of desire to interact with others. When this inability interferes with their development and functioning, it qualifies as a problem.

Description of Symptoms


  • May be irritable and difficult to console
  • May exhibit repetitive behavior, such as head banging
  • May show low levels of social responsiveness; may withdraw in the absence of persistent efforts by parents to encourage social interaction

Early Childhood

  • Appears self-absorbed, preferring solitary play to interacting with others
  • May exhibit some mildly compulsive or rigid behaviors

Middle Childhood

  • Rarely initiates peer interactions; prefers solitary play to group activities
  • May be increasingly concerned about following rules and maintaining routines


  • Has few friendships; has difficulty in social situations
  • May be viewed as a loner; is socially isolated
  • May have eccentric hobbies and interests
  • Shows little concern for popular styles of dress or behavior

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