Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by problems in social interaction and communication, limited and repetitive patterns of behavior, and ranges in symptoms and severity.


Could I have Autism?

Often, Autism is diagnosed at a young age, but higher functioning people with Autism may not be diagnosed until much later in life.

What are the symptoms of Autism in adults?

  • Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
  • Trouble interpreting facial expressions, social cues, or body language
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Trouble keeping up a conversation
  • Voice inflection that does not reflect feelings
  • Difficulty maintaining a conversation and prone to oversharing on a favorite subject
  • Tendency to engage in repetitive and routine behaviors
  • Only participates in a restricted range of activities
  • Strict consistency to daily routines, distress when changes occur
  • Deep knowledge of one particular topic that may border on obsession

If these symptoms sound like you, here is a free screening for adult Autism

What do I do if I think I have Autism?

Here is a guide for adults with Autism

See a clinician. They will be able to help determine whether you have Autism, and suggest treatment options for you.


Onset of symptoms is typically within the first year. Some children appear to develop normally and then go through a period of regression around 18 months where they develop symptoms of Autism. Every child is different and has a unique pattern of behavior and severity which can range from low functioning to high functioning.

What are ASD Symptoms in Children?

Social Communication and Interaction

  • Reduced eye contact
  • Lack of response to their name
  • May have either difficulty learning and signs of lower intelligence or have normal to high intelligence but have trouble communicating and applying what they know to their lives
  • Resists cuddling and holding
  • Prefers playing alone, retreating into his or her own world
  • Lacks facial expressions
  • Doesn’t speak or has delayed speech, may lose previous ability to say words
  • Cannot start a conversation or keep one going
  • Speaks with abnormal tone or rhythm (e.g., singsong voice or robot like speech)
  • Repeats words or phrases but doesn’t understand how to use them
  • Doesn’t appear to understand simple questions or directions
  • Doesn’t express emotions or feelings and appears unaware of others’ feelings
  • Doesn’t point at or bring objects to share interest
  • Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being passive, aggressive, or disruptive 
  • Difficulty recognizing nonverbal cues 

Patterns of behavior

  • Repetitive movements, like rocking or spinning
  • Performs activities that could cause self-harm, like biting or head-banging
  • Develops specific routines and is disturbed at any slight change
  • Has problems with coordination or odd movement patterns, like clumsiness, walking on toes, stiff or exaggerated body language
  • Fascinated by details of an object but doesn’t understand the overall purpose or function of the object
  • Is unusually sensitive to light, sound, or touch
  • Doesn’t engage in imitative or make-believe play
  • Fixates on an object or activity with abnormal intensity of focus
  • Has specific food preferences, such as eating only a few foods, or refusing to eat foods with a certain texture

What are some developmental signs that my child might have Autism?

  • At 6 months, your child does not smile or respond with a happy expression
  • At 9 months your child does not mimic sounds and facial expressions
  • At 12 months you child does not coo and babble
  • At 14 months, your child does not make gestures like waving or pointing
  • At 16 months, your child does not say single words
  • At 18 months, your child does not engage in make-believe play
  • At 24 months, your child does not say two-word phrases
  • At any age, your child loses his or her language skills or social skills

A free screening for Autism in Toddlers can be found here

What are the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

There is no single cause of ASD; both the environment and genetics contribute to its development.


Some genetic disorders are associated with the development of Autism, such as Rett Syndrome and fragile X syndrome. Genetic mutations that occur randomly, or are inherited, may also contribute to the occurrence of Autism.


There is no link between vaccines and autism. Despite the controversy that exists, there is extensive research to show that vaccines are not associated with autism spectrum disorder.

Researchers are currently exploring whether environmental factors such as viral infections, medications and complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants contribute to triggering Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What are the risk factors associated with ASD?

  • Boys are 4 times more likely to develop ASD than girls.
  • Family history of ASD increases the risk that a child in your family will have ASD. 
  • Children with medical conditions such as fragile X syndrome and Rett syndrome increase the risk of ASD
  • Babies born prematurely may have a greater risk of ASD
  • Having older parents may be associated with the child having ASD, but more research is needed to determine the association

What are the complications of ASD?

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder may struggle with problems in school or work, inability to live by themselves, social isolation, stress within their family, and being bullied or victimized.

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