Autism in Children - The ADHD Centre

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Autism Spectrum Disorders

What You Need to Know?

Diagnosing autism in children

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) include communication, social, and behavioural challenges. These problems can be categorised from mild, severe, or somewhere in between.

There are different levels of autism commonly recognised:

  • Asperger’s Syndrome

    • Children with Asperger’s may appear to be very intelligent and control their daily life. They may appear to be really focused on topics that interest them and discuss it nonstop but have a much harder time with social interaction.

  • Pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)

    • This diagnosis includes children with autism symptoms that are more severe than Asperger’s syndrome, but not as serious as autistic disorder.
  • Autistic disorder

    • A pervasive developmental disorder that is defined by the presence of abnormal or impaired development that is found before the age of three years, and the characteristic type of abnormal functioning in all the three areas of psychopathology: communication, reciprocal social interaction, and confined, stereotyped, repeated behaviour.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder

    • The rarest and most severe part of the spectrum. It describes children who develop normally and then rapidly lose many aspects of social, language, and mental skills, between ages 2 and 4. These children also develop a seizure disorder along with the other symptoms.

As of today, they are all called “autism spectrum disorders” or ASD – a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. Recent studies show 1.1% of the UK population may have ASD. This suggests over 695,000 people are affected based on the 2011 census figures.  Almost 1 in every 100 people in the UK has ASD affecting more boys are diagnosed with the condition compared to girls.

Common signs of autism found in children

While many children with autism experience similar difficulties, this spectrum disorder display different difficulties in various degrees.

1) Difficulties in thoughts and behaviour

  • Repetition of acts, for instance, lining objects up or playing a game in the same way over and over again
  • Hyper or over sensitivity towards sound, sight, touch,  smell, or taste. Touching or wearing certain fabrics, distinct background noise or textures of food can all be challenging for a person with autism.
  • Adjusting to a change in a routine or a new situation can be very difficult
  • Repetitive and patterned movements such as spinning, rocking or hand waving helps them stimulate sensation and deal with stress

2) Difficulty in relating to others

  • Lacking awareness of other’s personal space
  • Showing limited to very little interest in interacting with others
  • Lack of empathy for understanding other people’s emotions
  • Tends to usually detach in group settings

3) Difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication

  • Lack of facial expressions when communicating with others
  • Delayed speech development/ lack oral communications
  • Displays reluctance in eye contact
  • Odd tone of voice when speaking
  • Having difficulty interpreting body language or figures of speech
  • Clumsiness or unusual ways of moving – e.g. walking exclusively on tiptoe

Diagnosing autism in children is recommended not to take place before the age of 2 as up until this point children are still developing and regress in language and social skills.

For some cases, a few children under the age of 18 months show clear signs such as not being able to maintain eye contact, repetitive play and tends to play on their own. However, parents are keen at picking up signals when things don’t seem quite right with their child, which is why we suggest parents submit their child when they feel the need to do so.

Early intervention can greatly make a difference to put in place any adjustments that can help your child. The earlier a child’s difficulties are addressed, the better they will be able to cope and achieve more in life.

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We have been diagnosing and treating people with ADHD since 2009.


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