Autism, also known as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication challenges, and repetitive behaviours. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that individuals with autism can exhibit a wide range of symptoms and vary in terms of their abilities and needs. There are ASD assessments available which can give you a professional diagnosis.

What Is Autism?

Common signs and symptoms of autism typically emerge in early childhood, although they may be evident later in some cases. These symptoms can include:

Social challenges

Difficulty with social interactions, such as making eye contact, understanding and responding to social cues, and developing relationships with peers.

Communication difficulties

Delayed language development, trouble initiating or sustaining conversations, repetitive or unusual use of language, and difficulty understanding non-literal language (such as sarcasm or metaphors).

Repetitive behaviours and restricted interests

Engaging in repetitive movements or actions (e.g., hand-flapping, rocking), having a strict adherence to routines, displaying intense interest in specific topics, and becoming upset with changes in familiar environments or routines.

Sensory sensitivities

Heightened or reduced sensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as noise, lights, textures, or smells. This can lead to sensory overload or seeking sensory stimulation.

The exact cause of autism is still not fully understood, but research suggests that it is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is currently no known cure for autism, but early intervention and therapy can help individuals with autism manage their symptoms, improve their social and communication skills, and enhance their overall quality of life.


What Are The Early Signs Of Autism?

The early signs of autism can vary from person to person, and they may not always be apparent in the very early stages of development. However, some common early indicators can suggest the possibility of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These signs may become noticeable as early as infancy or in the toddler years. It’s important to remember that the presence of these signs does not necessarily mean a child has autism, but they may warrant further evaluation by a healthcare professional.
Here are some early signs to look out for:

Lack of or limited eye contact

Infants and young children with autism may have difficulty establishing and maintaining eye contact. They might seem disinterested in looking at others or avoiding eye contact altogether.

Delayed or atypical communication

Delayed speech development or a lack of responsiveness to verbal cues can be an early sign of autism. Children may not babble or use gestures to communicate as expected, and they may have difficulty understanding or using language appropriately.

Lack of social smiling or reciprocity

Typically, infants respond to social interactions with smiles and engage in back-and-forth interactions. In some cases of autism, children may not display social smiles or actively participate in social exchanges.

Limited social interactions and play

Children with autism may exhibit reduced interest in engaging with others. They may not show interest in social games, imitating others, or participating in pretend play. Their play may be repetitive or focused on specific objects or parts of toys.

Sensory sensitivities

Some children with autism may display unusual reactions to sensory stimuli. They may be hypersensitive or hypersensitive to certain sounds, textures, lights, smells, or tastes. For example, they may cover their ears or become overwhelmed in noisy environments.

Repetitive behaviours or restricted interests

Early signs of autism can include repetitive movements like hand-flapping, rocking, or spinning objects. Children may also show intense interest in specific topics or objects, focusing on them to the exclusion of other activities.

These signs can vary in severity and may not be present in all cases of autism. If you have concerns about your child’s development or notice any of these early signs, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or a specialist experienced in autism evaluations for a comprehensive assessment.


What Is The Difference Between Autism & Asperger’s Disorder?

Previously, Asperger’s disorder was considered a separate diagnosis from autism. However, with the publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) in 2013, the diagnostic criteria for autism changed, and Asperger’s disorder was removed as a distinct diagnosis. Instead, it was included under the umbrella term “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD).

Prior to this change, Asperger’s disorder was typically characterized by milder symptoms compared to other forms of autism. Some differences that were commonly noted between autism and Asperger’s disorder included:

Language and cognitive development

Individuals with Asperger’s disorder often had typical language development and average to above-average intellectual abilities. They might have demonstrated advanced vocabulary, but they could struggle with pragmatic language skills, such as understanding and using non-literal language or grasping social nuances.

Social difficulties

While both autism and Asperger’s disorder involve challenges in social interaction, individuals with Asperger’s disorder tended to exhibit less severe social impairments. They might desire social interactions but struggle with understanding social cues, making and maintaining friendships, and grasping social norms.

Motor skills

Individuals with Asperger’s disorder usually did not experience significant delays or difficulties in motor skills, such as coordination and motor planning, which are sometimes observed in autism.

It’s worth noting that the removal of Asperger’s disorder as a separate diagnosis and its inclusion within the ASD umbrella was met with some controversy.

The change was intended to eliminate potential confusion and ensure more consistent diagnosis and treatment practices. Today, professionals typically use the term “autism spectrum disorder” to encompass the full range of autism presentations, including those previously referred to as Asperger’s disorder.

Each person with autism, regardless of the specific diagnostic label, is unique and may have a combination of strengths and challenges that vary in intensity. The focus is now on understanding and supporting individuals based on their specific needs rather than the previous diagnostic subcategories.


Are There Treatments Available For Autism?

There are various treatments and interventions available to support individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While there is no known cure for autism, early intervention and appropriate therapies can help individuals with autism develop important skills, improve their quality of life, and enhance their social and communication abilities. The specific treatments and interventions recommended may vary depending on the individual’s needs and the severity of their symptoms. Here are some commonly used approaches:

Behavioural and Developmental Therapies

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a widely recognized therapy for autism that focuses on reinforcing desired behaviours and teaching new skills through positive reinforcement. Other behavioural and developmental therapies, such as Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI), Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), and Speech and Language Therapy, can also be beneficial.

Social Skills Training

This type of intervention focuses on improving social interaction, communication, and understanding of social cues. It may involve structured activities, role-playing, and group sessions to help individuals with autism develop appropriate social skills and establish meaningful relationships.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists work with individuals with autism to enhance their ability to perform daily activities and develop fine motor skills, coordination, sensory integration, and self-care skills.

Speech and Language Therapy

This therapy helps individuals with autism develop and improve their communication skills, including spoken language, non-verbal communication, and social communication. It may involve strategies to support expressive and receptive language, pragmatic language, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems if needed.

Educational Interventions

Specialized educational programs tailored to the individual’s needs can provide structured learning environments, individualized instruction, and support in areas such as academics, social skills, and behaviour management.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms associated with autism, such as hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, or aggressive behaviours. Medication decisions should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional experienced in treating autism.

The effectiveness of treatments and interventions can vary depending on the individual, and a multi-disciplinary approach involving a team of professionals is often beneficial. Each treatment plan should be tailored to the unique needs and strengths of the individual with autism. Family support and involvement also play a vital role in the overall success of interventions.

What Are Some Challenges With ASD?

ASD presents various challenges for individuals who have it. These challenges can impact different aspects of life and may vary in severity from person to person. Here are some common challenges associated with ASD:

Social Interaction Difficulties

Individuals with ASD often have difficulties in understanding and engaging in social interactions. They may struggle with nonverbal communication, such as maintaining eye contact, interpreting facial expressions, and understanding social cues. Establishing and maintaining friendships can be challenging due to difficulty with reciprocity and understanding social norms.

Communication Challenges

Many individuals with ASD have difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication. They may have delayed language development, struggle with expressive and receptive language skills, and have difficulty understanding and using gestures, tone of voice, and sarcasm. Some individuals with ASD may rely on alternative communication methods, such as picture-based systems or assistive technology.

Restricted and Repetitive Behaviours

A hallmark feature of ASD is the presence of repetitive behaviours and a need for sameness. This can manifest as repetitive movements (e.g., hand-flapping, rocking), strict adherence to routines, intense interest in specific topics, and resistance to change. These behaviours can interfere with daily functioning and flexibility.

Sensory Sensitivities

Many individuals with ASD have sensory sensitivities, which can involve being either hypersensitive or hypersensitive to sensory stimuli. They may experience difficulties with noise, lights, textures, smells, or tastes, leading to sensory overload or seeking sensory stimulation. Sensory sensitivities can impact daily activities and environments.

Executive Functioning Challenges

Executive functions refer to a set of cognitive processes that help with planning, organization, problem-solving, and impulse control. Individuals with ASD may experience difficulties with executive functioning, which can affect their ability to manage time, complete tasks, and adapt to changes.

Associated Co-occurring Conditions

Individuals with ASD often have co-occurring conditions or challenges. These can include intellectual disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, depression, epilepsy, gastrointestinal issues, and sleep disturbances. Managing these additional conditions can add complexity to the overall challenges of ASD.

Individuals with ASD may face challenges, they also have unique strengths and abilities. With appropriate support, interventions, and accommodations, individuals with ASD can develop skills, achieve their potential, and lead fulfilling lives.

speech and language therapy

Do People With ASD Ask A Lot Of Questions?

The tendency for individuals with ASD to ask a lot of questions can vary depending on the individual. While some individuals with ASD may ask a high number of questions, others may ask fewer or may not engage in extensive questioning. It’s essential to remember that ASD is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals with ASD can have diverse characteristics and behaviours.

Some individuals with ASD may exhibit a strong interest in specific topics or subjects and engage in repetitive questioning related to those areas of interest. This intense focus on a particular topic, combined with a desire for predictability and understanding, can contribute to an increased number of questions.

On the other hand, some individuals with ASD may have challenges with social communication and initiating conversations, which can lead to fewer questions being asked in certain situations.
It’s important to consider that communication difficulties associated with ASD can affect the way individuals ask questions. They may struggle with phrasing questions appropriately, interpreting context, or understanding the social nuances of questioning.

It’s worth noting that these are general observations, and individual experiences may differ. Each person with ASD is unique, and their behaviour, including the frequency and nature of questions, will depend on various factors, including their communication abilities, cognitive profile, interests, and personality.

Understanding and supporting communication in individuals with ASD requires patience, flexibility, and individualized approaches.


What Are Some Good Questions To Ask An Autistic Person?

When interacting with an autistic person, it’s helpful to approach them with respect, empathy, and a genuine interest in understanding their perspective. Here are some open-ended questions that can facilitate meaningful conversations and help establish a connection:

  1. What are your favourite hobbies or interests?
  2. What kind of activities do you enjoy doing?
  3. Can you tell me about a topic you know a lot about?
  4. How do you prefer to communicate or express yourself?
  5. What environments or situations make you feel comfortable?
  6. Is there anything you would like me to know about your experience with autism?
  7. How can I best support you in our conversation or interaction?
  8. What are some things you find challenging, and how do you cope with them?
  9. Are there any specific sensory preferences or sensitivities I should be aware of?
  10. Can you tell me about a time when you felt particularly proud or accomplished?

Remember, every individual is unique, and it’s important to listen actively and respect their boundaries. Be patient, provide ample time for responses, and be open to their communication style, which may vary from verbal to nonverbal forms. Establishing trust and creating a comfortable environment can help foster meaningful conversations with autistic individuals.

What Are Some Good Autism Questions For Parents?

When engaging with parents of children with autism, it’s important to approach the conversation with empathy, sensitivity, and a desire to understand their experiences. Here are some questions that can help facilitate supportive and meaningful discussions:

  1. How did you first notice or become aware that your child might be on the autism spectrum?
  2. What challenges or concerns have you encountered as a parent of a child with autism?
  3. Can you share some of the strategies or interventions that have been helpful for your child?
  4. What resources or support networks have you found valuable in your journey as a parent of a child with autism?
  5. How has autism impacted your family dynamics, and how have you navigated those changes?
  6. What are some of the joys or positive experiences you have had as a parent of a child with autism?
  7. Are there any specific goals or aspirations you have for your child’s development and future?
  8. How can friends, family, or the community best support you and your child?
  9. Are there any specific challenges or situations you would like more information or guidance on?
  10. How do you practice self-care and maintain your well-being as a parent of a child with autism?

Remember to listen attentively, validate their experiences, and avoid making assumptions or generalisations. Each family’s journey is unique, and it’s important to approach discussions with sensitivity and respect for their individual circumstances.