Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by difficulties in social communication, and by engagement in restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. The behaviours are present in early childhood and limit or impair everyday functioning. Many individuals with ASD have coexisting intellectual disability and other problems, like anxiety. ASD affects around 1% of the population and is more commonly diagnosed in males than females.1
ASD requires specialist assessment via a collaborative team involving a paediatrician/psychiatrist, speech pathologist and psychologist. Diagnosis is based on a comprehensive assessment of developmental and family history, observation of the individual’s behaviour and interactions with others, and assessments of intellectual functioning, language functioning and adaptive behaviour.
There is currently no single universally effective intervention for ASD and a multi-modal approach is required to promote development, improve behaviour and reduce the stress experienced by the individual and their family. All interventions should be tailored to the unique needs of the individual and their family. There are several intervention programs with established or emerging evidence of efficacy, all of which require specific training and qualifications in order to practice.
Individuals with ASD and associated intellectual disability often require a lifetime of care, though many individuals with ASD live and work independently in adulthood.