What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability that leads to significant social, communication and behavioural challenges. There is often nothing about how autistic children looks that sets them apart from others, but they may communicate, learn, behave and interact in totally different ways.
ASD is defined by a “spectrum condition” that affects autistic individuals differently and varying to different degrees. Some of them are gifted (also known as Asperger’s Syndrome) but some of them are severely challenged. Up to date, there is no known single cause of ASD but increased awareness as well as early diagnosis/early intervention leads to significantly improved outcomes.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated autism prevalence in year 2018 is as high as 1 in 59. Boys has 4.5 times higher risk to develop ASD than girls. 1 in 42 boys is autistic while for girls, 1 in 189 is autistic.
ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger, but generally detected by age 2 or 3.
Following the diagnostic criteria of ASD in American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), ASD children often has persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour.
Parents could monitor their child’s development closely as early identifications change lives. Some of the early signs include:
- Start talking late and do not like to play with others
- Little or no eye contact
- Seldom or do not respond when called
- Repetitive use of language or behaviours (eg. hand flapping, twirling objects)
- Persistent interest/fixation on parts of objects (especially round or rolling objects)