What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?


Autism spectrum disorder is a type of neurodevelopmental disorder that involves difficulties in social communication and repetitive behaviors. The severity of the disorder can vary greatly, and it includes a range of previously defined disorders such as early infantile autism and Asperger’s disorder. The cause of autism spectrum disorder is multifactorial, meaning there are likely many different factors that contribute to its development.

Signs & Symptoms

Persistent Deficits In Social Communication and Interaction

  • No social smile, No babbling
  • Lack the anticipatory posture for being picked up
  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact
  • 9 months -Don’t show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised
  • 9 months –Doesn’t respond to name
  • 1year old -Does not play simple interactive games like ”peek a boo” etc.
  • 1-year-old-No gestures like waving / goodbye
  • 15 months-Doesn’t share interests with others like showing an object that they like
  • 18 months -Doesn’t point to show you something interesting
  • 24 months -Does not notice when others are hurt or upset
  • 36 months-Doesn’t notice other children and join them in play
  • 48 months-Doesn’t pretend to be something else, like a teacher or superhero, during play
  • No Cuddling, hugs, kisses
  • Not seeming attached to parents.
  • Exhibit a strong attachment to an inanimate object.
  • Doesn’t ask for help when they need it, and struggle instead

Restricted, Repetitive Patterns of Behavior, Interests, and Activities

  • Lines up toys or like objects and gets upset when order is changed
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Plays with toys the same way every time
  • Is focused on parts of objects (eg wheels)
  • Must follow certain routines and gets upset by minor changes
  • Flaps hands, rocks body, bangs objects, spins self in circles, watches water flowing, touching, biting, finger flicking
  • Unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
  • Brings objects close to eyes, smells them
  • Being rigid in following rules at school and in sport and games

What to do if you think your child may have Austism Spectrum Disorder?

Visit your primary care physician if you suspect your child may have this disorder; they will be assessed and referred to the Child Psychiatrist if necessary.


  1. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. DSM 5 TR 2022
  2. Kaplan and Saddocks. Synopsis of Psychiatry. 12th edition. 2022
  3. Autism Case Training: A Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics Curriculum. Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau. CDC. May 2011

Prepared by:

Dr. Jenese October
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Psychiatry Department. GPHC