Autism is a developmental condition that impairs social skills and communication abilities. Repetitive behaviours are also characteristic of autism. Children with autism do not look any different from typical children. The ability to learn, think, and problem solve varies from person to person, and some autistic individuals are highly intelligent while others require significant assistance due to severe issues.

According to "The Economist," the rate of autism increased from 4.5 cases per 10,000 people in 1970 to 1 in 68 people in 2016. In boys, the rate was even higher at 1 in 42. It is unclear if this increase is due to an actual rise in the prevalence of the condition or to changes in research and diagnosis practises.

Scientists agree that genetics play an important role in the occurrence of autism. When a sibling is autistic, the other siblings are at a higher risk of also having autism. Furthermore, children with chromosomal abnormalities, such as Fragile X Syndrome, or children born to women who receive valproic acid or thalidomide during pregnancy are also at a higher risk of developing autism. Research supports the idea that autism can occur before, during, and after birth. Additionally, babies born to older parents are at a higher risk of being autistic.

Autistic Behaviours

An individual with autism may struggle with social skills, regulating emotions, and communication. They may display repetitive behaviours. Learning ability, concentration, and reaction to stimuli can vary from person to person. Symptoms of autism typically appear in early childhood and persist throughout an individual's life, although they may improve over time.

Individuals with autism, whether children or adults, may display the following indications:

  • Does not point to objects and does not invite participation.
  • Does not visually follow when someone points something out.
  • Has difficulty forming relationships or is not interested in other people at all.
  • Avoids eye contact; prefers to be alone.
  • Unable to understand other people’s feelings or express their own.
  • Does not like to be touched or hugged, unless they initiate contact.
  • Does not respond when spoken to.
  • Pays more attention to other noises than people talking.
  • Interested in people, but unable to interact with them.
  • Repeats what they hear or repeats a word, phrase, or sentence rather than coming up with their own words.
  • Unable to “pretend play,” such as feeding a doll or simple roleplay appropriate for their age.
  • Repetitive or obsessive behaviour.
  • Has a difficult time with change.
  • Sensitive to smell, taste, sound, and touch.
  • Loses certain abilities, such as being able to speak, and then suddenly stops.


The diagnosis of autism is typically based on observing behaviours and development, rather than blood tests or other medical exams. Although some behaviours may become apparent as early as 18 months of age, a professional with experience in diagnosing autism can usually make an accurate diagnosis by the time a child is two years old. Unfortunately, many children are not diagnosed until much later.

Early treatment is crucial for children with autism, so timely diagnosis is important.


Autism cannot be cured, but early intervention can help support normal development. Intervention can start as early as one year old, with a focus on all-around development, such as forming appropriate relationships and communication. Parents who suspect that their child has autism or other developmental issues should contact a medical professional as soon as possible, such as a developmental paediatrician or a child psychologist or psychiatrist.