Autism spectrum disorder: Signs, symptoms and primary health care.

Autism signs, symptoms and primary health care.
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Early identification of autism spectrum disorder: Autism signs, symptoms and primary health care.

The understanding of autism has improved since the 1940s when it was first identified. Before the 1940s, it was considered and used as the symptoms associated with Schizophrenia. Reading this descriptive article, you may learn how you can detect an individual AS autistic and what the primary care is for autistic children in the next few hours. This paper is about what autism stands for, signs and symptoms, facts of autism, and the primary health care for an autistic child.


The word Autism comes from the Greek word ‘autos’ meant self; and Psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, in 1911, first used autism to mean morbid self-admiration and withdrawal within self and as the symptom of schizophrenia.  A person who has social and communication disorder (language problem, for example), unable or indifferent to interact with their environment if it is their immediate environment or not, is an autistic person. Autism is not just attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Autism often called a neurodevelopmental disorder, is a lifelong impairment that causes sometimes disability, and these impairments and disability trigger an individual to withdraw himself or herself from social contact, and too repetitive activities and movements. For instance, a child who doesn’t make eye contact, not respond while they are being called by their name, maybe considered an autistic child. Again, children may develop language and social skills like some other normal child, but, suddenly, they begin to stick in a certain situation or action as autism presents, named regressive autism.

Autism has signs and symptoms through which we may identify a person as autistic. Signs and symptoms are often seen first three years of a child. Despite the clear signs and symptoms, autism can’t be identified easily. Because of failure in interpreting the signs at a very early age.

Signs and symptoms include

  • Delay in speech and language development. Communicating single words, rather than sentences, for example.
  • Frequently repeating set words, phrases, and behaviors.
  • Not responding while their name is being called, deficits in pointing, showing and even babbling.
  • No interest to interact with others. For instance, an autistic child avoids crowded places or birthday parties while others enjoy it very much.
  • Not making eye contact.
  • Ignore or fail to adjust to social norms and values.
  • Delayed motor skills development, cerebral palsy, for example.

Autism spectrum condition

Autism is a spectrum of closely related conditions with shared symptoms, namely problems with communication, social skills, empathy, and flexible behavior. “Though all individuals with autism will face certain difficulties, the conditions will affect them in different ways.” (CACHE level 2, 2018, pg.8)

Two spectrum conditions; Asperger syndrome, characterized by difficulties in social interactions, repetitive behavior, and delayed motor development, cerebral palsy, for example. “But, Asperger syndrome doesn’t include the delays or difficulties in either language or cognitive development.” (CACHE level 2, 2018)

The high-functioning autism (HFA) spectrum means signs and symptoms are less severe and people are more capable to adjust to their environment. It’s characterized by early delays in language.

“Person with HFA or AS usually wants to be involved with other people but they often feel like social outcasts which, in turn, can lead to depression and anxiety, as they have problems to understand the facial expression and non-verbal communication.” (CACHE level 2, 2018)

Facts about autism

  • Children with autism become adults with autism.
  • Autism can affect any child.
  • There are no known specific causes of autism.
  • There is no cure for autism.
  • Vaccines do not cause autism.

Primary health care for an autistic child

Early detection

Pediatric, medical care for children, primary health care clinicians recommend that early identification of autism is important because the sooner we intervene with autism, the more we can enhance adaptive and cognitive functioning, as well as early interventions services, may be more effective in children with autism. They refer some signs which could be the signs of autism of a child who cannot babble or make points or use other gestures, no single word by the age of 12-18months or no spontaneous 2-word phrases by 24months or who experiences any losses of language or social skills at any age, are recommended to see an expert.

Assessment intervention

An autistic child needs to be assessed to get diagnosed according to the severity of autism spectrum disorder. Assessment mostly occurs through direct observation, emphasis is given on speech and language, social adaptive and behavioral assessment, and assessment on fine and gross motor skills.

Keep in mind, early detection and assessment intervention need assessment, but both of them do from a different perspective.

Speech therapy

It tries to address challenges with speaking and communicating problem minimization that is based on language development. Speech therapy starts with family and identifying specific individual goals.

Speech therapy works on and by
  • Strengthening the muscles in the mouth, jaw, and neck.
  • Making clearer sound.
  • Using pictures and technology. For instance iPad or Dynavox etc.

Behavioral therapy

It includes different kinds of behavioral therapy.

  • RDI

Relationship development intervention (RDI) is a family-centered approach that may be the most useful therapy for primary health care for children with autism. This therapy focuses on interpersonal engagement, building social and emotional skills within their environment, such as empathy. RDI is a step-by-step path, such as building eye contact. The initial goal is to build a relationship between parents and children.

  • CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy(CBT) focuses on changing perceptions or thoughts based on the memory of an individual. It is a step-by-step process that tries to adapt an autistic individual to the situation by using or utilizing their coping mechanism. For example; an autistic child may be passionate about drawing. Drawing skills can develop his motor skills or social skills (motivating one to draw crowded scenery, maybe trigger his subconscious mind to engage with people).

  • Occupational therapy

This therapy seeks physical and motor skills development by focusing on improving play skills, learning strategies, and self-care to make an individual as possible as an independent. For instance; it provides toilet training or dressing for making an individual autistic child more self-dependent. A licensed OT expert work with the family teacher and other professionals as a team and involves 30mins to 1hour of session per week. The rest of the time, parents, teachers,s and other family members practice activities related to this therapy. Here, the therapist evaluates the individual and the barriers that prevent the person from performing daily activities and gives treatment according to their analysis.

All of these therapies may be going at a time, as an autistic needs support all day and whole life from parents, teachers, and even the workplace.


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, not course, there are a lot of examples regarding the success of autistic people, causes language problems, social disorder, and even low motor skills development. Though it has specific signs and symptoms, identifying at a very early age is difficult; and identifying is the most important for minimizing autism. These signs and symptoms are not often expressed and sometimes can’t be interpreted by the parents. Autism can’t be cured but can be minimized through some basic primary health care, namely, CBT, RDI, OT speech therapy, etc. focused on children with autism.

  • CACHE level 2, October 2018, “Certificate in Understanding Autism”, LCG-UA.
  • Zwaigenbaum, L., Bauman, M. L., Stone, W. L., Yirmiya, N., Estes, A., Hansen, R. L. ,…& Kasari, C. (2015). Early identification of autism spectrum disorder: recommendations for practice and research. Pediatrics, 136(Supplement 1), S10-S40.
  • Parent factsheet, April 2010, Autism.
  • Wikipedia.

Disclaimer: Texts and images of this article are for informational purposes only. Do not constitute a medical service or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician/doctor before taking any medicine and, or treatment.

Writer: Salman Shah

Editor: Al-Resalat

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I am just a grave of thoughts. I know only one thing that I know nothing. people with nothing to declare carry the most but be sure I am exceptional.

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1 Response

  1. Luke Smith says:

    It’s nice that you pointed out how we may identify a person as autistic through some signs and symptoms. I was chatting with my online friend last night and I heard his niece may have autism. They definitely need to make sure, so they should ask for an autism diagnosis evaluation.

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