Let’s Talk About Autism Spectrum Disorder: Part I

Let’s Talk About Autism Spectrum Disorder: Part I

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that manifests in early childhood. ASD affects a child’s functioning across several areas. In diagnosing ASD, practitioners consider three areas in particular: 1) social development; 2) language and communication; and 3) repetitive and/or restrictive patterns of behaviour.

The term ASD is used to reflect the wide continuum of severity and experiences of individuals with autism. In some cases, ASD causes severe impairments in functioning, with a child having little to no language or communication, for example. In other cases, a child may have mild social difficulties and some repetitive behaviours but function well in all other areas.
ASD has traditionally been thought of as a psychological or behavioural disorder but there is increasing evidence that there are neuro-biological factors involved.

What causes Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Currently, there is no single known cause for ASD. Instead, research suggests that there are several factors that may play a role in the development of ASD, including genetic and environmental factors.

How prevalent is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Although we currently don’t have reliable data on the prevalence of ASD in South Africa, it is estimated that 1 in 59 children in the United States of America are diagnosed with it. ASD is more prevalent in boys than girls, with it being diagnosed four times more often in boys.

Let’s Talk About Autism Spectrum Disorder – Part II will look at some of the signs or red flags that a child may have ASD, what other diagnoses might co-occur with ASD, and what to do if you are concerned about your child’s development.

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