Autistic spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a situation that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behavior. In children with ASD, the sign are present before three years of age, although a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the age of three. There’s no “cure” for ASD, but speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational support, plus a number of other interventions are presented to help children and parents.
Signs and symptoms
People with ASD tend to have problems with social interaction and communication. In early infancy, some children with ASD don’t babble or use other vocal sounds. Older children have troubles using non-verbal behaviors to interact with others – for example, they have complexity with eye contact, facial expressions, body language and gestures. They may give no or brief eye contact and avoid familiar or unfamiliar people. Children with ASD may also lack awareness of an interest in other children. They’ll often either gravitate to older or younger children, rather than interacting with children of the same age. They tend to play alone.
They can find it hard to understand other people’s sentiment and feelings, and have difficulty starting conversations or taking part in them properly. Language development may be delayed, and a child with ASD won’t compensate their lack of language or delayed language skills by using gestures (body language) or facial expressions. Children with ASD will tend to repeat words or phrases spoken by others (either immediately or later) without formulating their own language, or in parallel to developing their language skills. Some children don’t show imaginative or pretend play, while others will continually repeat the same pretend play.
Some children with ASD like to stick to the same routine and little changes may trigger tantrums. Some children may flap their hand or twist or flick their fingers when they’re excited or upset. Others may engage in repetitive activity, such as turning light switches on and off, opening and closing doors, or lining things up. Children and young people with ASD frequently experience a range of cognitive (thinking), learning, emotional and behavioral problems.
Getting a diagnosis
The main features of ASD – problems with social communication and interaction – can often be recognized during early childhood.
Some features of ASD may not become noticeable until a change of condition, such as when the child starts nursery or school.
See your GP or health visitor if you notice any of the signs and sign of ASD in your child, or if you’re concerned about your child’s development. It can also be helpful to discuss your concerns with your child’s nursery or school.