What is it?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. Patients often demonstrate restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behavior patterns or interests.
What are the symptoms?
- Autism symptoms typically become clearly evident during early childhood, between 24 months and 6 years of age. Symptoms include a marked delay in language and cognitive development. There may be signs of obsessive and/or antisocial behavior.
- Asperger syndrome, another PDD, may be referred to as “high functioning autism.” Asperger syndrome usually lacks the primary communication and cognitive problems that characterize classic autism.
- Autism symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people may be considered autistic but manage to function in society without many setbacks. For others, the condition can have a substantial impact on their lives.
Things to watch out for
See your GP or health visitor if your child is showing symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or you’re worried about their development. If appropriate, your GP can refer you to a healthcare professional or team who specialise in diagnosing ASD, or someone who has access to such a team. The specialist or specialist team will make a more in-depth assessment, which should be started within three months of the referral.