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What is ASD?

ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

ASDs are developmental disorders of childhood characterized by marked deficits in communication and social interaction, preoccupation with fantasy, language impairment, and abnormal behaviour, such as repetitive acts and excessive attachment to certain objects. It is usually associated with intellectual impairment.

Children with ASD have difficulty communicating with others and have trouble with social interaction such as playing with other children or understanding some situations.

ASD is also often characterised by restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours as well as sensory sensitivities such as difficulty dealing with a lot of noise, or busy crowds.

Children with ASD can have difficulty coping with any variation to their usual routines. Unexpected or unfamiliar situations will often result in agitation and anxiety which usually manifests itself as a ‘tantrum’ or emotional ‘meltdown’.

The Early Sign

One of the first signs, which can alert a parent to the fact that their child is not developing as he or she should, is the manner in which their young child responds to them. The child may not learn to speak or have very limited speech. The child may also have great difficulty in comprehending the speech of others.

Some children with Autism can develop good spoken language. However, their language is very concrete and literal; it lacks a social quality and is not used in a conversational manner.

Parents may notice that their young toddler does not seem interested in playing with other children. They may also notice that their child is not playing with toys in an imaginative way. Instead, the child may spend time placing toys in neat lines or engaging in the same sequence of play activity over and over again.

There can also be a delay in fine and gross motor skill development (such as difficulty drawing or difficulty hopping, kicking a ball etc…).

Common Features of Autism

  • Impaired social interactions e.g. a lack of spontaneous interest in sharing in activities or interests with others, or lack of appropriate social responsiveness.
  • Lack of make-believe play.
  • Absence of language, or echoing of language, or language used in a very literal way.
  • Impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation.
  • Distress or difficulty with change to a routine.
  • Narrow and restricted range of interests e.g. may have a preoccupation with an object, may only be interested in lining up objects or making collections of particular items, may only be interested in a single topic or amassing facts about a single interest.

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