Autism: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments


Autism refers to a psychiatric disorder characterized by an individual having abnormal absorption with their inner self and lacking interest in relating with others. The syndrome is common among children and it is often marked by communication disorders, short attention spans, as well as the inability to treat others as people (Chan, 2014). This makes it hard relating to autistic people because they are socially withdrawn and do not participate in family life.

People that suffer from this disorder also exhibit regular patterns of restricted and repetitive behavior, especially during early childhood. Some of the common repetitive behaviors among autistic children include flapping of hands, insistence on sameness, as well as stacking or lining up objects (Dawson, 2010). Numerous studies conducted to establish the main causes of autism have established that environmental and genetic factors are responsible for the condition (Chan, 2014).

Over the years, treatment of autism has been ranked as one of the major challenges faced by members of the health care team across the world. The main reason for this is the existence of several stereotypes about the condition that have made it extremely hard to help autistic patients. Autism is a spectrum condition. This means that autistic people tend to have a different view of the world from others owing to certain difficulties that they experience (Gillberg, 2013).

Negative stereotypes have also been developed around the fact that the condition is incurable. Thus, autistic people believe that the condition will always form the basis of their identity. They need a lot of love, support, and understanding because their view of the world easily overwhelms them and tend to be anxious most of the time (Oller & Oller, 2010).


Autism is classified as a developmental brain disorder. It affects more than 20 million people across the world, with most of the identified cases involving children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the condition is more prevalent in boys compared to girls across the United States (Gillberg, 2013). In addition, one out of every fifty children in America suffers from autism.

One of the most important statistics with regard to the prevalence of autism is the fact that it cuts equally across all socioeconomic groups in the society. Over the last couple of decades, the global population of autistic people has gradually increased owing to improvements in strategies for diagnosis, as well as vigorous sensitization (Dawson, 2010). There have been numerous campaigns in the United States and other parts of the world aimed at advocating for increased research on the possibilities of finding a cure for the condition.

The campaigns have also been used as a platform to increase awareness about autism and the need to treat autistic people in a more deserving manner (Chan, 2014). Although the disorder is incurable, studies have established that it can be treated as long as the people diagnosed with it have unlimited access to the essential services and receive the necessary support from their loved ones.

Diagnosis of autism

Identifying the nature or cause of autism is a very important element in its treatment and management. Normally, autism is easily identified when a child is two and a half years old (Chan, 2014). However, health care experts argue that it is possible to notice that a child is autistic during the first few weeks after birth. There are certain milestones that a child ought to meet by a certain age, and their failure to do so should sound an alarm to a parent to have them screened for autism.

These milestones include babbling and gesturing within 12 months and minting single words within 16 months (Gillberg, 2013). In addition, parents are advised to take their children for screening in case they lose their language and social skills at any age. The best way of diagnosing autism is visiting a physician who specializes in autism spectrum disorders.

Some of the factors considered during the diagnosis include the medical history of a child, as well as their behavioral tendencies observed over a lengthy period (Chan, 2014). Diagnosis of autism applies two approaches, namely the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) (Gillberg, 2013). ADI-R involves a physician interviewing a parent in order to gather relevant information about their child’s behavioral tendencies and medical history.

On the other hand, ADOS involves interacting with a child in order to observe their behavior and response to certain elements that help to identify any notable deficits (Chan, 2014). Once a physician has established that a child is autistic, they often use the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) to establish the severity of the disorder (Dawson, 2010).

The basic element used in the diagnosis of autism is behavior. First, an autistic child has difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as social interaction across multiple settings (Chan, 2014). The children often struggle to interpret language and will always struggle relating to those around them including their own family members. Second, an autistic child generally exhibits a repetitive pattern with regard to the things they do, they way they execute them, and their behavior (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2014).

Psychologists argue that these patterns often lead a child to have an abnormal absorption with their life. This affects the normal development of crucial cognitive elements, thus resulting in functional impairment. Third, autistic children lack emotional reciprocity (Chan, 2014).

This symptom develops out of their singular approach to life and the repeated preoccupation with unusual things that limit their ability to connect emotionally with other people. They have a poor response to touch and other emotionally engaging activities that other children tend to have with their parents and caregivers. Once a parent makes one or all of these observations, they are advised to take their child to a physician who assesses their cognitive skills, intellectual deficits, hearing complications, and language impairments (Butcher et al., 2014).

Available treatment for children with autism

Although autism is incurable, it can be treated through a number of intervention measures that help in managing its symptoms (Butcher et al., 2014). Some of the main objectives of the treatment options available for autistic children include helping them have better relations with other people, acquire skills for taking care of themselves, identify opportunities for socialization, better their communication, and identify activities that are more purposeful (Gillberg, 2013).

Medication is one of the treatment options available for children with autism. They are mainly used to control the symptoms and their impact on the normal development of the child. Treatment of autistic children often applies on an individualized level, whereby a physician recommends a program that will help improve the specific deficits identified in a child (Chan, 2014). The treatment program involves a number of specialists who help a child to work on the impairments one at a time. Some of the specialists involved in treating children with autism include psychologists, speech coaches, physical therapist, occupational analyst, and a special needs teacher among others (Dawson, 2010).

One of the most important things to consider in treating autistic children is the need to choose a plan that builds on the specific needs and interests of the child. In addition, the treatment process should start as soon as the child is diagnosed with the disorder (Chan, 2014). This helps to give the child enough time to learn the important skills.


Autism is one of the challenges faced by professionals in the global health care industry. The disorder is commonly associated with children because that is the time defects start showing. Although the actual cause of autism is not known, studies have established that a number of environmental and genetic factors are responsible. One of the most important processes in managing autism is the diagnostic process. It helps the autistic people to understand the reasons behind their numerous defects and the measures they can take to manage them effectively.

Diagnosis also helps the affected people to access essential services and receive the necessary support from physicians and family members. Treatment of autism is often individualized owing to the need for every deficit diagnosed in a child to be managed separately. Some of the specialists involved in treating children with autism include psychologists, speech coaches, physical therapist, occupational analyst, and a special needs teacher.


Butcher, J.N., Mineka, S.M., & Hooley, J.M. (2014). Abnormal Psychology (16th Edition). London, England: Pearson Publishing Ltd.

Chan, A. (2014). Autism: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments. Web.

Dawson, G. (2010). Autism: Nature, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Los Angels, CA: Guilford Press.

Gerlach, E. K. (2013). Autism Treatment Guide. New York, NY: Future Horizons.

Gillberg, C. (2013). Diagnosis and Treatment of Autism. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

Oller, J.W., & Oller, S.D. (2010). Autism: The Diagnosis, Treatment, & Etiology of the Undeniable Epidemic. New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Learning.