What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and What are the Symptoms?

Posted on 10-02-2021 by admin

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and What are the Symptoms?

Being only first discovered in 1943 when the first person was diagnosed with autism, there are still many things that are unknown about the real causes and risk factors of autism. What we know is that the number of children known to have autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, at least partly due to changes in diagnostic practice.

In 2014, it was reported that approximately 1 in 59 children in the United States (1 in 37 boys, and 1 in 151 girls), has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The diagnostic criteria of ASD has changed significantly since the 1980s; for example, US special-education autism classification was introduced in 1994.

What is ASD?

ASD is a developmental disability  that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms can include intense focus on one item, unresponsiveness, lack of understanding social cues (like tone of voice or body language), repetitive movements, or self-abusive behavior like head-banging. The severity of the symptoms varies widely among affected individuals. Other possible symptoms include learning to speak relatively late, not playing interactively with other children, avoidance of eye contact, lack of empathy, and social withdrawal.

Children with ASD who have not developed sufficient language skills may act out, including screaming or crying, to express their needs. It is important to note that people with ASD may vary widely in their level of functioning, and not all people with ASD will experience all of the symptoms listed.

In infants, early symptoms and signs may vary but may include lack of eye contact or decreased eye contact, being overly focused on one item, and lack of back-and-forth play. Very young children may show early symptoms like loss of interest in social contact and social withdrawal.

Other ASD signs and symptoms

  • Abnormal body posturing or facial expressions
  • Abnormal tone of voice
  • Avoidance of eye contact or poor eye contact
  • Behavioral disturbances
  • Deficits in language comprehension
  • Delay in speech learning
  • Flat or monotonous speech
  • Inappropriate or awkward social interaction
  • Intense focus on one topic
  • Lack of empathy
  • Lack of understanding social cues
  • Learning disability or difficulty
  • Not engaging in play with peers
  • Preoccupation with specific topics
  • Problems with two-way conversation
  • Repeating words or phrases
  • Repetitive movements
  • Self-abusive behaviors
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unusual reactions in social settings
  • Using odd words or phrases


Diagnosing ASD can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.

ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable.1 However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with ASD might not get the early help they need.


There is currently no cure for ASD. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development. Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills. Services can include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others. Therefore, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has ASD or other developmental problems.

In addition to that, treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, often does not need to wait for a formal ASD diagnosis.

ASD Prevalence

ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but is about 4 times more common among boys than among girls.


If you think your child might have ASD or you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts, contact your child’s doctor and share your concerns.

If you or the doctor is still concerned, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation of your child. Specialists who can do a more in-depth evaluation and make a diagnosis include:

  • Developmental Pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs)
  • Child Neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves)
  • Child Psychologists or Psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind)

If your child has been diagnosed with autism and you are now looking for a Special Education school for your child to enrol in, get in touch with us by filling in this contact form. Our representative will get in touch with you soon to make an appointment with you and your child, and from then on, we will decide on the type of education programme that best suits your child.