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Autism: Causes, Symptoms, and Support

autism causes symptoms and treatment

Autism, a complex neuro developmental condition, manifests uniquely in each individual, affecting communication, behaviour, and social interaction. Understanding autism requires dispelling common myths and embracing diverse perspectives.

This blog delves into the multifaceted world of autism, exploring its intricacies, challenges, and triumphs. Join us on a journey of discovery and acceptance, celebrating the rich diversity within the autism spectrum.

What is Autism?

Autism, now known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a condition affecting brain development. ASD is a developmental disability resulting from variations in a child’s brain. 

Individuals with ASD may demonstrate unique behaviours, interactions, and learning patterns compared to others. They may encounter challenges in social interactions and understanding and utilizing both verbal and nonverbal communication.

What are the Types of Autism?

Autism (ASD) involves challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and communication. Subtypes are no longer distinct diagnoses; ASD is seen as a spectrum disorder with varying signs/symptoms and severity. The subtypes are:

  • Autistic Disorder (Classic Autism): Previously described significant challenges in communication, social interaction, and behaviour.
  • Asperger Syndrome: Involved milder symptoms, often with average or above-average intelligence, focusing on social interaction difficulties.
  • PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified): Included individuals with significant autistic traits not meeting full criteria for other diagnoses.
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD): A rare condition marked by loss of acquired skills after normal development.

Today, autism is diagnosed and understood based on a spectrum, with varying support needs and symptoms, emphasizing individual strengths and challenges rather than distinct subtypes.

What are the Symptoms of Autism?

Autism symptoms vary widely in severity, with each individual exhibiting unique characteristics. Recognizing signs of autism early is crucial to seek appropriate evaluation and support for your child. Consider the following indicators:

Social Interaction Challenges

  • Lack of response when called by name.
  • Absence of joyful expressions or smiles by 6 months.
  • Limited engagement in smiling, babbling, or making faces by 9 months.
  • Delayed use of gestures like pointing or waving by 12 months.
  • Non-participation in interactive games by 12 months.
  • Absence of words by 16 months or meaningful phrases by 24 months.
  • Regression in speech or social skills.

Restricted/Repetitive Behaviours

  • Organizing toys in specific patterns.
  • Need for rigid routines or strong reactions to changes.
  • Intense focus on unusual interests.
  • Strong sensory aversions (loud noises, clothing textures, eating habits).
  • Unusual sensory-seeking behaviours (peering, sniffing, licking objects).

If you notice these signs, consult your child’s healthcare provider promptly for further guidance and evaluation.

What are the Causes of Autism?

The exact cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) remains unknown, with research indicating it likely stems from a combination of factors rather than a single cause. Among the possible risk factors for ASD are:

  • Family history of autism
  • Specific genetic mutations and disorders like fragile X syndrome
  • Advanced parental age at conception
  • Low birth weight or metabolic imbalances
  • Prenatal exposure to certain medications or viral infections
  • Contact with heavy metals and environmental toxins

What are the Complications of Autism?

Autism frequently co-occurs with various physical and mental challenges, encompassing:

  1. Challenges with feeding.
  2. Sleep disturbances.
  3. Gastrointestinal (GI) issues.
  4. Epilepsy.
  5. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  6. Anxiety and depression.
  7. Additional mental health conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

How is Autism Diagnosed?

Obtaining an autism diagnosis involves a multifaceted process that relies on:

  • Developmental Surveillance: Your child’s healthcare provider examines their developmental history and behaviour. They encourage you to note observations for discussions at appointments.
  • Developmental Screening: This step involves a more structured assessment using questionnaires to compare your child’s development with norms. It serves as an initial indicator of potential concerns.
  • Formal Evaluation: Conducted by a specialist like a child psychologist, this comprehensive assessment includes structured tests, observations, and questionnaires. It aims to identify strengths, and challenges, and provide a formal diagnosis based on the gathered information.

Though challenging, this process ensures a thorough understanding of a child’s development for accurate diagnosis and support.

What is the Treatment for Autism?

Treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is tailored to individual needs and often combines various approaches, such as

  • Behavioural Therapies: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) focus on behaviour modification and skill development.
  • Educational and Skill-Building Therapies: Speech therapy enhances communication; occupational therapy develops motor skills and daily living abilities.
  • Medications: Though not targeting core symptoms, medications can manage associated issues like anxiety or hyperactivity.

Interventions include parent-mediated and sensory therapies, and music/art therapy. Education and support services are crucial for better outcomes. Early diagnosis and personalized plans enhance the quality of life.

How can you Prevent Autism?

While you cannot prevent autism, you can reduce the risk of having a baby with the condition by taking specific measures, which are:

  • Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Ensure regular visits to your healthcare provider, follow a nutritious diet and engage in exercise. Seek prenatal care and adhere to your provider’s recommended vitamins and supplements.
  • Use Caution with Medications: Consult your healthcare provider to identify safe medications and those you should avoid during pregnancy.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Refrain from consuming any type or amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Stay Updated with Vaccinations: Receive all recommended vaccines from your provider, including the German measles (rubella) vaccine, before becoming pregnant, as it can prevent rubella-related autism.


Autism is a complex neurological condition that manifests uniquely in each individual. By fostering understanding, acceptance, and support, we can create inclusive environments that empower and celebrate autistic individuals’ strengths and contributions. It is always advisable to seek medical help from a developmental pediatrician. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a developmental pediatrician, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment with pediatric neurologist at the CK Birla Hospital.

FAQs About Autism

Can Autism be Cured?

Autism cannot be cured, but various therapies and interventions can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Acceptance, understanding, and support are crucial for individuals with autism.

Are Vaccines Linked to Autism?

No, scientific studies and experts confirm that vaccines do not cause autism. Extensive research has consistently shown that vaccines are safe and essential for public health.

How Common is Autism in India?

Autism prevalence in India is estimated at around 1 in 100 children. However, accurate data can be challenging due to limited awareness, varied access to healthcare, and cultural factors affecting diagnosis.

Can Adults be Diagnosed with Autism?

Yes, adults can be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through comprehensive evaluations by qualified professionals. Diagnosis can provide understanding, support, and access to appropriate interventions and services.

What are Some Common Misconceptions About Autism?

Common misconceptions about autism include viewing it as a disease or deficit, assuming all autistic individuals are alike, believing it’s solely a childhood condition, and thinking it’s caused by vaccines.

Are there Support Services Available for Individuals with Autism and their Families?

Yes, there are various support services for individuals with autism and their families, including therapy, educational programs, community resources, advocacy groups, and specialized healthcare professionals.

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