About Autism

What is Autism
Treatment Model

What is Autism

Autism is a severe disruption of the normal development process and is often diagnosed within the first few years of life. Autism is viewed as a spectrum or a continuum of disorders, with varying degrees of severity and levels of functioning. The term Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is frequently used interchangeably with autism. Diagnoses such as Asperger's Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Autistic Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (Not Otherwise Specified) from DSM-IV are all included within the umbrella of ASD in DSM-5.


With the advancement in diagnostic tools, most children with autism can be reliably diagnosed by the age of 3, and earlier diagnosis is even possible for children as young as 12 months old. Parents are usually the first to notice peculiarities with their child's development that do not follow the typical norm. Some of these peculiarities noted by parents include sudden regression and onset of social aloofness and/or a lack of progress after the child has reached certain developmental milestones.

Although symptoms of autism vary from child to child, the core areas affected include:
  • Deficits in language and communication
  • Impairments in socialization and social interactions
  • Undeveloped cognitive and adaptive functioning
  • Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior and interests

These essential skill deficits cause children to fall progressively further behind their typical peers as they grow older. The cause is unknown, but evidence points to physiological and neurological abnormalities. Children with autism generally do not learn in the same way that children normally learn, because, in part, they lack the fundamental skills which enable them to acquire and process basic information. These difficulties result in significant delays in their development of language, play and social skills, including their failure to notice and learn through imitation of their peers.


At this point, the cause of autism remains unknown, however, the one theory that has strong scientific evidence is that genetics play a significant role in contributing to the occurrence of ASD. Studies show the concordance rate for identical twins is much higher than for fraternal twins, and ongoing research is beginning to identify genes that may put an individual at risk.

Additionally in the last decade, there are more postulations on the relationship between environmental toxins, diets, vaccines and autism, but up till now, there is no convincing scientific evidence that demonstrate a causal link between ASD and these toxins, life-saving vaccines or diets. As a result, adherence to these speculative beliefs is tragic because more children are harmed by not receiving life-saving vaccination.

Finding the answer will require long-term, painstaking, rigorous, and sophisticated scientific investigation. Professional responsibility and ethics demand that care be taken not to over-speculate, misrepresent nor present mere hypotheses as facts for the causes of autism.


On March 27, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the new Autism Spectrum Disorder prevalence is now 1 in 68 children ( 1 in 142 boys and 1 in 189 girls ). A 30% increase from 1 in 88 two years ago. The largest increase was seen in children who have average or above-average intellectual ability, according to the CDC.

According to the report, the average age of diagnosis is still over age 4, even though autism can be diagnosed by age 2. The earlier a child is diagnosed with autism, the better their changes of overcoming the difficulties that come with the disorder. There are still disparities in awareness and access to care among minorities and underprivileged families, which can have a direct impact on a child.