1. What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum disorders is a constellation of pervasive developmental disorders that begin in early childhood, persist throughout adulthood, and affect three crucial areas of development: communication, social interaction and restricted patterns of behaviour. Like all other spectrum disorders, Autism ranges from severe to mild.

2. How different is Autism from Asperger’s Syndrome (HFA)?

Asperger Syndrome exists as part of the autism spectrum but differs in early development of language from classic autism and other pervasive developmental delays.

Asperger Syndrome and high functioning autism (HFA) are often referred to as the same diagnosis. Individuals with HFA have average or above average intelligence but may struggle with issues related to social interaction and communication. The diagnosis of either High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome can oftentimes feel frustrating to a parent and the child as it may seem that the terms are not clearly defined. It is essential to remember that both AS and HFA do present themselves largely the same way, and as a result may be treated in a similar way. The primary difference is that a diagnosis of HFA requires that, early in development, the child had delayed language whereas in AS, the child did not show a significant delay in language development.

3. What does it mean to be on the Autism Spectrum?

Autism forms the core of the autism spectrum disorders. Asperger syndrome is closest to autism in signs and likely causes. unlike autism, people with Asperger syndrome usually have no significant delay in language development.  Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder, which share several signs with autism but may have unrelated causes.

Some of the children with high-functioning autism are savants with exceptional mathematical,

linguistic or academic skills, while others have musical or artistic skills beyond par.

About 25 percent of individuals with autism are nonverbal but can learn to

communicate using other means.

4. How is Autism diagnosed?

The diverse expressions of autism symptoms pose diagnostic challenges to clinicians. Symptoms of autism may present at various times of development (e.g., toddler, child, or adolescent), and symptom expression may vary over the course of development. Furthermore, clinicians must differentiate among the different pervasive developmental disorders, and may also consider similar conditions, including intellectual disability not associated with a pervasive developmental disorder, specific language disorders, ADHD, anxiety, and psychotic disorders. Thus, diagnosis must be done by expert paediatricians, clinical psychologists and professionals with great care over a course of several sessions.

5. How do I deal if my child is diagnosed with autism?

You are never prepared for a diagnosis of autism. It is likely that you will experience a range of emotions. You may go through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, grief and acceptance. Understand that this is completely natural. But sooner one reaches the stage of acceptance, the better for your child. Learn to be the best advocate you can be for your child. Be informed. Don’t push your feelings away. Talk about them. Try to direct your anger towards the disorder and not towards your loved ones. Appreciate the small victories your child may achieve. Love your child and take great pride in each small accomplishment.  Focus on what he or she can do instead of making comparisons with a typically developing child.

Get involved with the autism community.

6. How early should we start intervention/therapy?

You can start as early as 12 months.

7. How is Autism different from Intellectual disabilities?

Autism is generally a social and communicative disability, although intellectual disability can occur alongside. However, children diagnosed with autism can have normal to above normal IQs. Intellectual disability on the other hand is a generalized impaired cognitive functioning along with reduced IQ levels.