Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published on June 6th, 2018

Updated on January 3rd, 2024

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD or Autism) is typically diagnosed in early childhood. It is a disorder that affects a child’s ability to socialize and communicate. 

ASD affects how a person interacts with others. It also causes restrictive behaviors and limitations in functioning.

A condition of ASD causes different strengths and challenges within a child. It is a disorder that can be difficult for the child and their family members to understand and cope with each day. 

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A person with ASD may struggle to understand relationship dynamics. They may also be disinterested in social interactions.

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASD is diagnosed on a spectrum of strengths and challenges of each child. A child with ASD will begin to show symptoms between 1-3 years of age. 

Diagnosing ASD requires a person to meet the diagnostic criteria. A person with ASD will fall into one of 3 levels of severity: 

Symptoms of ASD focus on how a child communicates with others. They also focus on the prevalence of restrictive and repetitive behaviors. 

The severity of symptoms will determine which level a person with ASD falls. They may or may not struggle with impaired intellectual functioning. 

The following are symptoms of ASD:

Risk Factors of Autism Spectrum Disorder

A case of ASD can typically be diagnosed during childhood. A child can show signs of the disorder at an early age. 

The prognosis of the condition will depend on the following:

The following are risk factors of ASD:

Birth Complications

Complications during birth can increase the risk of developing ASD. Common issues that increase risk include:


A person with ASD may also be genetically predisposed to the condition. There is a genetic component to the risk of developing ASD. This means it can be inherited in a person’s genes.

Co-Occurring Conditions

There are mental health, medical and learning conditions that can occur with ASD. Such mental health conditions that may increase risk include:

Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Both the child and the family are affected by the challenges that come with ASD. Treatment can be tricky. The older the child grows without treatment, the more challenging it will be for them.

Children with ASD tend to perform well with structure. Considering this, treatment incorporates structured techniques to address different issues. 

Treatment for ASD includes different forms of therapy. These forms of therapy target both the affected person’s mental and emotional functioning, along with life skills. 

Common forms of therapy that may be used in the treatment of ASD include:

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).

ABA is a form of therapy that encourages positive and wanted behaviors and discourages unwanted behaviors. It also applies exercises that help kids with developmental disabilities learn living skills.

ASD targets behaviors that promote healthier functioning. Areas that may be targeted include:

Occupational Therapy (OT).

OT is a form of therapy that helps with refining motor skills. OT can help a person with ASD learn how to integrate different motor skills to perform tasks. 

Example: An affected person participating in OT may learn how to use their motor skills to set a table, get dressed, or write on paper.

OT helps with teaching a person with ASD how to operate independently and take part in social activities. It can also help with refining motor skills and coping with sensory information.

Speech and Language Therapy.

Speech and language therapy helps an affected person learn how to understand language. Those who are verbal will learn how to communicate verbally. Those who are nonverbal may learn how to use nonverbal language cues to communicate. This may include signs, motioning, or other means of communication. 

Treatment for ASD requires the continuation of learned skills at home. Families will need to put consistent systems in place. This will help to maximize the treatment process for a person with ASD. 

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