Overview

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental disability condition that affects a person’s ability to interact with the world around them. Autism has wide-ranging levels of severity and varying characteristics.

The term autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term that includes autism, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

Symptoms

What are the signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

ASD symptoms typically become clearly evident during early childhood, between 12 and 24 months of age. However, symptoms may also appear earlier or later.

Early symptoms may include a noticeable delay in language or social development. The main symptoms of autism are typically divided into two categories: problems with communication and social interaction, and restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour or activities and may include:

Challenges with communicating and interacting with others

Challenges with communicating and interacting with others

Repetitive and different behaviours, including body movements

Repetitive and different behaviours, including body movements

Strong interest in one topic or subject

Strong interest in one topic or subject

Unusual reactions to what they see, hear, smell, touch or taste

Unusual reactions to what they see, hear, smell, touch or taste

Preferences for routines and disliking change

Preferences for routines and disliking change

Causes

What are the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The exact cause of ASD is unknown and there doesn't seem to be one single cause.

Some risk factors associated with ASD include:

Family history of ASD

Family history of ASD

Genetic mutations

Genetic mutations

Genetic disorders such as fragile X syndrome

Genetic disorders such as fragile X syndrome

Being born to older parents

Being born to older parents

Low birth weight

Low birth weight

Metabolic imbalances

Metabolic imbalances

Exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins

Exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins

A history of viral infections

A history of viral infections

Foetal exposure to some medications

Foetal exposure to some medications

Diagnosis

How do I know if I have Autism Spectrum Disorder?

An ASD diagnosis involves several different screenings, genetic tests, and evaluations, which may be carried out by doctors, psychologists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists.

Find a Practitioner

See a list of practitioners who are specialised in treating Autism Spectrum Disorder.