What is Autism & When Can You Screen for Autism?

February 2nd, 2023 | 10:15 am

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), commonly known as “Autism”, is a developmental, medical condition that is defined by having differences in brain activity. It manifests in various ways with differing degrees of severity, as indicated by the phrase “spectrum.” In other words, every child with Autism has unique abilities, symptoms, and difficulties in interacting.

Over time, the concept of Autism has been updated. The DSM-IV included Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) as part of the autism spectrum between 1995 and 2011. Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum condition characterised by advanced verbal and linguistic abilities and frequently high levels of intelligence.

What are the Symptoms of Autism?

Individuals with autism experience the following symptoms:

  • Repeating words & gestures
  • Lack of facial expression
  • Closed focus and interests
  • Tolerance for harsh temperatures
  • Minimal eye contact

Understanding the signs might help you begin comprehending the behaviours and difficulties associated with Autism, but this is different from getting to know the person. Every individual with Autism has unique qualities, preferences, hobbies, problems, and talents.

How is Autism Diagnosed?

As no medical tests are available for the condition, diagnosing Autism can be difficult. In this case, doctors take the child’s developmental history into account.

A doctor or specialist may employ one or more of the following screening instruments:

  • The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist) for Autism in Children is a 20-question assessment for toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months.
  • To determine any developmental issues a child may have, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), a broad developmental screening instrument with portions targeting certain ages, is employed.
  • The interactive STAT (Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children) screening tool evaluates playing activities, communication, and imitation through 12 exercises.
  • A broad developmental parent-interview form called Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) uses questions from parents to pinpoint areas that warrant attention.

What are the Causes of Autism?

The exact causes of Autism are not yet known. However, there are a few theories explaining the reason for Autism.

As per the brain scans, kids with Autism have a different brain structure and shape than children with neurotypical development. The specific aetiology of Autism is unknown, but researchers are looking into several ideas, including the connections between inheritance, genetics, and health issues.

The idea that Autism has a hereditary foundation is further supported by the observation that there appears to be a pattern of the condition or other similar problems in many families. Although no gene has been linked to the development of Autism, scientists are looking for atypical genomic regions that autistic children may have inherited. It also appears that certain kids are predisposed to developing Autism from birth, while no “triggers” have been found.

There are a few contradictions concerning genes. According to NICHD, genes are one of the factors that contribute to the cause of ASD. Over 100 genes on various chromosomes may contribute to ASD at variable levels. Also, people with Autism might have mutated genes.

When Should You Screen for Autism?

At 18 months of age or younger, ASD can occasionally be identified. An accurate diagnosis made by a qualified expert can be made by age 2. Many kids, unfortunately, are not given a definitive diagnosis until they are considerably older. Some people don’t receive a diagnosis until they are adults or teenagers. Due to this delay, individuals with ASD may not receive the prompt assistance they require.

This method involves several phases.

Monitoring of Development

Developmental monitoring is a proactive, continuing process that involves watching a kid develop and promoting discussions about a child’s abilities and skills between parents and caregivers. Developmental monitoring entails keeping track of your child’s growth and determining if they have attained the regular developmental milestones or skills in areas like playing, learning, speaking, acting, and movement that most kids do by a given age.

Your doctor or nurse may also question your child’s family history. ASD, learning difficulties, cognitive disability, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are just a few illnesses that should be disclosed to your child’s doctor or nurse.

Development Screening

A developmental screening examines your child’s development more closely. Compared to developmental monitoring, developmental screening is more formal. Even though there is no known issue, it is a standard component of specific well-child checkups.

During routine well-child visits at these ages, the experts advise developmental and behavioural screening for all kids after:

  • 90 days
  • One year
  • Three years

Additionally, all children should be primarily evaluated for ASD at the age of 1 and 2 years during routine child visits.

Research that compares your child to other kids of their age forms the basis for screening questionnaires and checklists. Language, movement, reasoning abilities, behaviours and emotions may be the subject of questions. If a kid is at high risk for ASD (for instance, has a brother or other family member with ASD) or if characteristics occasionally linked to ASD are present, further screening should be done.

Developmental Assessment

A quick examination with a screening instrument does not offer a diagnosis. Still, it can show if a kid is progressing normally or whether further examination by an expert is necessary. It could be required to do a formal developmental review if the screening tool reveals a specific problem area.

A qualified professional, such as a developmental paediatrician, child psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or another specialist, often conducts this formal evaluation, which is a more thorough examination of a child’s development. The specialist may observe the kid, provide a formal test, interview the parents or other caregivers, or request that they complete questionnaires.

The outcomes of this formal assessment show your child’s abilities and areas for improvement, which may help determine if they satisfy the requirements for a developmental diagnosis.


When engaging in things that his peers find enjoyable, a youngster with Autism may exhibit little to no interest in them. Autism may be harmful to the neurological system since it interferes with a child’s ability to learn.

People with Autism can take dietary supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acid supplements. It is important to diagnose and get the possible treatment for Autism (ASD) as soon as possible. Visit the Giggles by OMNI for more information on Autism, its cause, and diagnosis.