What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex neurodevelopment disorder that affect an individual’s the social, emotional, and communicative skills. The onset of symptoms is typically before the age of 3 years. However, sometimes ASD is not diagnosed until later in life. As children with ASD become adolescents and young adults, they may have difficulties developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers and adults, or understanding what behaviors are expected in school or on the job.


What are the symptoms of ASD?

Individuals with ASD tend to be very sensitive to their environment, such as sounds, light, and touch. They may focus on one particular thing and also have a hard time shifting their attention to other tasks. Because of this, they tend be good at recalling and remembering specific information, but they may have difficulties in communication skills like poor eye contact or speech.

The symptoms of ASD might include::
  • Interact with people differently - this does not mean that they cannot make friends or build relationships. But they may need some help understanding other’s language and behaviour.

  • Have different sensory needs - for example, they might find bright lights, loud noises or strong smells overwhelming.

  • Need more consistency and routine - they may find new situations difficult to cope with, and need some support to help they know what to expect and changes to routines may be difficult.


What causes ASD?

Both genetic and environmental risk factors appear to affect critical areas of early brain development, thus their relation to the potential risk of developing ASD.


What treatments are available for ASD?

Behavioral Approaches
  • Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) which focuses on reinforcing positive behaviours and tracking the child’s progress.

    • Discrete Trial Training (DTT) in which positive reinforcement is used to rewards desired behaviours.
    • Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI) which uses one-to-one supervision with the aim to reduce unwanted behaviours at an early age.


Developmental Approaches
  • Speech and Language Therapy helps to improve the person’s understanding and use of speech and language. Some people with ASD communicate verbally. Others may communicate through the use of signs, gestures, pictures, or an electronic communication device.
  • Occupational Therapy teaches skills that help the person live as independently as possible. Skills may include dressing, eating, bathing, and relating to people. Occupational therapy includes:
    • Sensory Integration Therapy to help improve responses to sensory input that may be restrictive or overwhelming.
    • Physical Therapy can help improve physical skills, such as fine movements of the fingers or larger movements of the trunk and body.


Psychological Problems that Associated with ASD:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Schizophrenia 

  • Bipolar Disorder 

  • Down syndrome (DS)




Association for Science in Autism Treatment (n.d.). Defining Autism Spectrum Disorders, https://asatonline.org/for-parents/


Centre for Disease and Control and Prevention. ADHD & ASD Screening, Diagnosing, and Treating. Sept. 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html


Autism Speaks (n.d.). Medical Conditions Associated with Autism, https://www.autismspeaks.org/medical-conditions-associated-autism#anxiety