Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability that affects approximately one percent of the population. The disorder is characterised by two main features: persistent difficulties in social interaction and communication, and presence of rigid and repetitive behaviours.

ASD does not present as a single condition.
At the higher functioning end of the spectrum, many people with ASD have average or high intelligence. It is estimated that almost half (44 percent) of people with ASD have a co-occurring learning disability, defined as a reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills, and a reduced ability to cope independently . Approximately 25–50% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) do not develop functional verbal communication. . Children with limited or no verbal communication skills have significantly poorer outcomes compared to children with ASD who have verbal communication skills.

Individuals with autism often display challenging behaviours. A person’s behaviour can be defined as “challenging” if it puts them or those around them (such as their carer) at risk, or leads to a poorer quality of life. It is important to remember that all behaviours serve a unique function for the individual. Understanding why these behaviours occur is an important step in preventing them.


The diagnosis is based on observations of the child and conversations with the family. Its conducted by a team of professionals that may include:

  • Paediatrician
  • Educational practitioner
  • Speech and Language Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Educational Psychologist

Diagnosis criteria includes difficulties in social communication and interaction, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities.

For further information and support, please visit:

1- Baxter A.J., Brugha T.S., Erskine H.E., Scheurer R.,W, Vos T., & Scott J.G. (2015). The epidemiology and global burden of autism spectrum disorders. Psychological Medicine, 45(3), 601–13.

2- Patten, E., Ausderau, K.K., Watson, L.R., & Baranek, G.T. (2013). Sensory response patterns in nonverbal children with ASD. Autism Research and Treatment, Article ID 436286.