Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition characterised by problems in social interaction and communication in addition to restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour. Despite these common characteristics, people with ASD can present with a wide range of symptoms and severity - the “spectrum” of Autism.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism can significantly impact learning, communication, and the ability to form and maintain relationships, especially in more severe cases. Autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term encompassing previously considered separate, including autism and Asperger's syndrome. "Asperger's syndrome," is a term still preferred by some people for the form of Autism, which is thought to be at the mild end of severity.
Autism is not a mental illness. It is considered a disorder of brain development.
Early detection and effective autism treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children with autism, but autism is not a condition that can be “cured.”
When do Autism Symptoms Show in Children?
Children with autism usually show signs and symptoms within the first 2 years of life. Difficulties may not be recognised till later if they are not severe. Children with “high functioning” autism or “Asperger’s” are sometimes not diagnosed till adolescence. A small number of children appear to develop normally in the first year and then go through a period of loss of acquired language or communication skills between 1 and 2 years of age.
Children with autism often have other difficulties, such as speech and language disorders, intellectual disability, and sensory processing disorders.
Autism Assessment and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorder in Abu Dhabi and Dubai
At Aspris Wellbeing Centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, our multidisciplinary team of expert child and adolescent clinicians; psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, speech and language therapists, and occupational therapists have considerable expertise and experience in assessing, diagnosing, and treating autism and its related difficulties.
Autism is a complex condition and is often missed in high-functioning individuals and girls. Our clinicians have a special interest and particular expertise in diagnosing high-functioning autism and autism in girls.
We conduct comprehensive ASD tests and reliable learning assessments, and use gold-standard diagnostic tools and measures, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R) for diagnosing autism.
Autism Support, Care, Management in Dubai & Abu Dhabi
At Aspris, we understand that the autism diagnosis is only a first step and the means to getting the right treatment and support for your child with autism.
- We provide dedicated autism treatment and other child services in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to support children, young people, and their families to cope with the challenges of autism and associated disorders.
- We provide individual feedback and psychoeducation and develop a personalised therapy plan for your child. In addition, we also run group sessions and workshops for parents of children with autism.
- For young children, we provide intensive behaviour therapy to improve social communication and improve functioning at school and at home.
- Depending on individual needs, we provide speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and behaviour therapy as well as educational assessments and support working closely with parents and schools.
Some children with autism may need medication for challenging behaviours, anxiety, or autism-associated sleep difficulties. We always try to avoid using medicines in children, but if non-pharmacological measures are not enough, our psychiatrists may prescribe medicine to help your child.
What causes Autism?
ASD and its causes are the focus of a significant amount of active research. Experts believe that ASD is caused by how the brain develops before, during, or soon after birth, as well as genetic influences.
Although the exact cause of ASD is unknown, it is understood that a range of inherited, environmental and other factors could lead someone to develop this complex condition.
Does my child need assessment or treatment for Autism or related disorders?
Many children with autism exhibit challenging behaviours, anxiety, sleep problems and parents or teachers often refer children because of these difficulties. Sometimes, help is sought for an associated disorder such as intellectual disability or hyperactivity.
Parents often seek help if they notice that the child’s speech or social interaction is not developing as expected or the child’s difficulties are causing problems in their functioning at school or at home.
Autism Symptoms: Common behaviours during school age
Some of the ASD symptoms and behaviours you might observe if your child is showing signs of ASD during school age can include:
- Still avoids using spoken language to communicate
- Avoids trying to form new sentences, and will often use repeated or pre-learned phrases
- Struggles to engage in a typical dialogue of conversation and will appear to talk at, rather than with, other people
- Finds it difficult to read into the subtleties of language, such as when a peer or adult uses sarcasm, such as: “I can’t wait to do my homework tonight”
- Difficulty responding to everyday social cues such as greeting people or waving goodbye
- Interactions and behaviour
- Finds it difficult to interact with others and form friendships, even if they desire to have friends
- Finds it hard to read the context of a social situation, such as speaking formally to teachers and more informally when talking to peers in the playground
- Develops an intense interest in a particular subject or activity
- Prefers to play or interact with objects rather than other people
- Repetitive movements such as rocking back and forth or flapping their hands
It is important to remember that autism signs and symptoms in some children who do not have intellectual disability and have normal speech may be less evident. This is especially true of girls with autism. In these children, anxiety, misunderstanding of social cues and difficulties managing friendships and relationships may be the problems that are more obviously evident.
For further information about our Children and Adolescent Services call today on: (+971) 4 385 4493 (Dubai) / (+971) 2 651 8111 (Abu Dhabi) or submit an enquiry form in confidence. We will provide you with details on all our treatments and offer help on how to support your child's or teenager's mental health and wellbeing.