Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) -

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism is currently one of the developmental disorders classified by medical science as a personality disorder affecting one’s whole persona.

It profoundly affects all aspects of development and behaviour throughout life. The disorder is usually attributed to genetic factors resulting in a development of the central nervous system and the brain that is different from the average.

However, scientific research on this topic is still ongoing. Although we are certain that it cannot be cured or prevented, some of the problems can be counteracted by treatment.

People with autism have information processing and basic cognitive systems that work differently, unlike their ‘typical’ peers. This is reflected in the way they detect, perceive and process social and physical stimuli from the environment. Consequently, their behaviour, thinking and reactions markedly differ from the usual. Their impairments can also affect speech, fine motor skills and communication.

Autism is not a rare condition, with research suggesting a 1-2% rate. The numbers appear to be increasing, partly due to more effective diagnostic tools and partly due to the expansion of the criteria used.

The behavioral manifestations of autism are pretty diverse and specific, mostly depending on the reactions and behaviors of the individual.
The development and operation of the following three domains are problematic in all people with autism:

  • communication,
  • organization of flexible behaviour,
  • and social behaviour.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) -


Until 12 months:

  • their crying is difficult to understand
  • unusual or restricted babbling (screaming, squealing)
  • may have their first words but use them without meaning
  • limited or no smile (from 6 months)
  • no expression of emotion in the face or posture (from 6 months)
  • not returning parent or caregiver smiles or gestures, not responding to or imitating sounds (from 9 months)
  • lack of babbling

12-24 months:

  • lack of reciprocity in waving and pointing (from 12 months)
  • specific development of speech: delayed or halted speech development or other symptoms such as echo-like repetition of words or sentences
  • limited facial expressions, poor gesticulation, communication is not assisted by non-verbal means
  • difficult to calm them down
  • special development of movements
  • eating problems
  • lack of word production (from 18 months)
  • warning signs could be any other deficits that are present or disturbing regarding speech, communication, behaviour or social relations

Additional warning signs from 24 months:

  • the absence of meaningful sentences consisting of two words
  • their imitative play is limited
  • lack of interest in other children
  • limited discussion regarding their experiences
  • refusing to wear certain clothes or to eat certain foods
  • outbursts during which it is impossible or very difficult to comfort the child

Nursery school:

  • no creative use of language
  • half of the children who actually speak have poor phonemic awareness and no meaningful speech

Typical characteristics of speech:

  • too much, not enough or inadequate emphasis, loudness, intonation. Errors regarding pronouns, over-sensitivity, and appearance of phrases an adult would normally use
  • in the field of non-verbal communication, only the occasional use of gaze, gesticulation and facial expressions
  • gestures and speech, ambiguous concepts, symbols, and humour may be difficult to understand and could be interpreted literally

Other symptoms:

  • clinging, unusual interests, difficulty changing activities, strong resistance, tantrums
  • unusual play activity: lack of role-playing, putting toys in order and ‘as if’ play
  • in terms of social interaction: one-way talk, not sharing their experiences with others, lack of social interest, difficulty engaging in social activities, rarely initiating
  • rarely or never paying attention to the needs and feelings of others, not seeking comfort
  • lack of empathy, dislike being touched, embarrassing behaviour in public


  • lack of interaction with peers
  • not participating in play or not participating appropriately
  • difficulty in understanding concepts related to social context
  • learning difficulties due to attention problems
  • spending a lot of time passively or engaged in unusual activities

Early identification is important, as the sooner early treatment starts, the better the developmental outcomes are.

Often, children with autism are referred to a specialist because of a delay or other limitations in their speech. However, it is important to examine other areas in order to confirm or reject the diagnosis of autism.

A diagnosis of autism can be made through specific screening in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, and special education, ideally at the age of 2–3 years, but the time of the diagnosis can vary. Some people may not have a diagnosis until adulthood.

After the examinations mentioned above, a written opinion is issued detailing the diagnosis, the treatment, and the care options. Therefore, the diagnosis is made by a complex team of professionals.

The committee of a particular county, composed of several experts, determines whether a kid classifies as a “child with special educational needs.”
People with autism need a wide range of different types of treatments. However, these treatments must adapt to the child’s abilities and needs.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) -

Therapies that can be used for children with autism

In the area of motor development:

  • TSMT
  • Ayres therapy
  • Delacato therapy

Communication and speech development:

  • Speech therapy
  • ABA therapy:
    • ABA therapy is child-centered, based on the child’s motivation, strongly emphasising the positive relationship between the child and the therapist. Its foundation is positive reinforcement, one of the most crucial elements in learning. This therapy aims to develop skills (speech, communication, play, cognitive, self-care, motor skills, etc.), promote appropriate behaviour, and reduce inappropriate behaviour.
  • TEACCH therapy (program regarding communication and social relations): 
    •  The individualized usage of the TEACCH method is performed in both institutional and home settings. It relies heavily on parents at all stages of the program. Creating a structured environment tailored to the individual is the most important aspect of the process. It helps the children carry out their daily activities and makes the world a safer and more predictable place in their eyes.
      Visual assistance immediately makes it clear to the kid what they need to do. Teaching alternative behavioural patterns makes it easier to develop a relationship with peers and to adapt to certain situations in life.
  • PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System): 
    • The PECS method is a teaching system that enables children with significant language deficits to communicate using pictures. The method of exchanging cards with pictures on them initially teaches the child to understand the relationship (exchange) between the picture and the object. After that, it becomes easier to gradually distinguish between pictures and symbols. The aim of PECS is to teach forming sentences with symbols and to create opportunities for the child to express desires, observations, and feelings. Moreover, it helps them develop an independent vocabulary. Although PECS is used as a visual aid to support the development of people with autism, it encourages verbal communication. This method can be used both at home and in institutional settings (e.g. kindergarten, school).
  • Art therapies, music therapy

Options for animal therapy:

  • Dog therapy
  • Horse therapy

Other options:

  • Vision therapy – as an adjunctive therapy
  • Auditory therapy – as an adjunctive therapy
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