Lybrate Logo
Get the App
For Doctors
Consult Online
Book Appointment
Ask a Question
Plan my Surgery
Health Feed
Health Feed
Find Doctors

Autism: Symptoms, Causes, Test, Treatment And Cure

Last Updated: Sep 20, 2021

What is Autism?

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability which affects an individual’s ability to communicate and express themselves, understand the behaviour and expression of others and have impaired social skills. People suffering from this condition have trouble interacting with healthy individuals and the society in general.

They cannot express themselves normally through words or actions, and often develop unusual repetitive behaviours. It is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, because it does not denote a single condition but is actually a term for a variety of conditions.

Autism is also defined as a nuero behavioral condition, meaning that it is a behavioural disorder caused by the brain inability to process emotions and understanding.

What are the different types of autism?

As talked by some experts recently, there are three different types of autism which include Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive development disorder. Now they all have been clubbed under one single name known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Still, when people knew them with different names, the older terms mean:

  • Autistic Disorder It is also known as classic autism. It is mostly perceived by people when someone talks about autism. People who suffer from autistic disorders usually tend to delay in language, face social and communication challenges and portray unusual interests and behaviours. Autistic Disorder victims may also portray intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Development Disorder It sometimes is also called atypical autism or PDD-NOS. People who portray some criteria of autistic disorder and some of Asperger’s syndrome, but not completely from any of the two are thought to be diagnosed with atypical autism. The symptoms of this are fewer and milder than the autistic disorder.
  • Asperger’S Syndrome Asperger’s Syndrome usually shows milder symptoms of autistic disorder. However, people with Asperger’s syndrome might face social challenges and portray unusual interests and behaviours. However, they do not possess any language problem or intellectual disability.

What are the Symptoms of Autism?

Some patients may showcase only few or all of these behaviours or some may display none of it.

  • Children who do not respond when called by their names
  • Lack of interest in activities that normal children are interested in, such as playing with other children, befriending other kids.
  • Avoiding eye contact while talking with parents or strangers
  • Delay in developing normal speech
  • Speaking in a monotonous or robotic tone
  • Children who don't talk very often and prefer being alone
  • Repeating a behaviour regularly, like a certain motion of hands or rocking the body.
  • Cannot understand and respond to slightly complex question or instructions
  • Getting irritated over minor things
  • Infants who don't show expressions and gestures, do not make sounds and speak in baby-language by 24 months of age.

What age does Autism usually show up?

Autism begins to develop before or at the age of 3 years. In some cases, ADS begins to affect the children within 12 to 24 months of birth. Here are some signs that one can look for in an infant to detect Autism in a newborn:

  • Does Not keep optimum eye contact.
  • No response on the name even after 9 months of age. The newborn is also poor at facial expressions like sad, happy, surprised, and angry.
  • Weak gestures with socially interactive activities like playing simple interactive games even after 1 year of birth.
  • Does not have any interest in social interaction like pointing fingers or have curiosity about anything happening around them by 15-18 months of age.
  • Troubled have an understanding of others feelings and emotions by 24-36 of age.
  • Show little or no interest in playing games with others even to the age of 30-60 months of age.

How do kids get Autism?

There is no specific cause of Autism in infants and adults. Although scientists believe that genetics and environment combined may trigger the illness in an individual.

  • Genetics:

    If Autism runs in your genetics or you have suffered Autism it is likely to pass through your offspring. Autism spectrum disorder or ASD can also be associated with genetic mutations that happen during pregnancy and can trigger it due to any external factor. In other cases, brain development or unbalanced brain cells communicate.

  • Environmental factors:

    Scientists still do not have any specific information about triggers associated with Autism. Factors such as viral infection, strong medications, environmental pollution or genetic unbalance during pregnancy.

What's the difference between Autism and Aspergers?

The basic difference between Asperger’s Disorder from classic Autism is the severity of the signs combined with no symptoms of language delays. Patients with Asperger’s Disorder show mild symptoms and most of the time have good cognitive skills and hold on to language, and often resemble neurotypical behavior.

First, Toddlers with Autism mostly isolate themselves from any social interaction, but on the other hand kids with Asperger’s Disorder intentionally make it an initiative to interact but fail as they don't know how to do it.

Mostly they are socially awkward and often miss cues for an appropriate social mode of conduct. Limited eye contact, not understanding the use of gestures or sarcasm, and lack of empathy towards others are some of the examples.

Second, kids with Autism do not have any interest in indoor or outdoor activities but kids with Asperger’s Disorder like to have hobbies like collecting small items like rocks or bottle caps and indulging in statistical and analytical knowledge. They also tend to remember everything but fail to have a conversion about it.

Third, even though patients with Asperger's disorder have weak communication skills, they have quite sharp language skills. They find it hard to communicate but do detect social emotions like humor or sarcasm. On the other hand, autistic patients have poor language skills. They cannot identify the tonality and underlying emotions like sarcasm and humor.

Fourth, in Autism kids show clinically significant or weak cognitive ability or delay in the development of cognitive skills. But Asperger’s Disorder does not show any clinical signs associated with weak cognitive skills. They can be clumsy and awkward but it's more psychological than clinical.

What Causes Autism?

Scientists and researchers have confirmed that autism is a result of abnormal functioning of the brain and its ability to process thoughts, expression and behaviour.

However, the exact causes of autism have not yet been identified. There are some studies that suggest that this condition may be caused by genetic factors. But this has not been fully confirmed. At present, the cause of autism is still a subject of study and research.

Does Autism worsen with age?

Even though the initial development starts at the start to the age of 3 years, it can last through your whole life. In most cases, the symptoms fade away with time, yet mental health professionals saw few cases of Autism at the adult stage. Scientists believe that Autism in the adult stage happens due to poor detection of the signs and symptoms in the early stage of development.

Does Autism cause anger?

Anger is not a usual sign that can be seen in the Autism spectrum. But since they don't know how to communicate or express they often burst out and show rage fits when angry. The rage can be short and intense and wear off shortly. They can be triggered by sensory overload, stress, change in routine, and feeling of being ignored.

Can Autism go unnoticed?

Often parents with hard times parenting may ignore the basic signs of Autism. The common signs are characterized by social and behavioral challenges like Poor verbal, social, and communication skills.

Furthermore, every patient with ASD ( Autism spectrum disorder) has different types of symptoms. So sometimes it's hard to identify the signs of Autism.

They also feel different from others and feel like their life is difficult. They considered daily activities as “high-functioning”. They often landed up behaving differently due to a lack of communication skills.

Is Autism always genetic?

Studies have shown significant traces of Autism in children with parents who had or have Autism running down in their families. Genetics has played a great role behind ASD ( Autism spectrum disorder) yet there is no concrete evidence to prove the same.

But Autism always triggers through environmental factors like stress and negative surroundings. Researchers often concluded that genetics and environment go hand in hand in the case of Autism.


What are the Precautions For Autism?

Since the cause of autism is currently unknown, so there are no guidelines for preventing autism. But there are a few factors that parents can follow to try and prevent their autism from affecting their children, such as:

  • Proper care during pregnancy, which means avoiding drugs and medications that are not suitable for pregnant women, not smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle and getting proper care and treatment for any disease that is affecting an individual.
  • People who follow these guidelines cannot guarantee that their children will not be affected by autism. Also, if a child is diagnosed with autism, then certain precautions must be taken to ensure their safety. These include:
  • Kids and teenagers with autism must be continuously monitored. It is not safe to leave them alone for long hours.
  • Children and young adults with autism are likely to elope or run away from safe environments. Parents must take care that their children do not get such opportunities.
  • Neighbours, children, and any other people who interact with individuals suffering from autism must be informed about the condition. They should be educated about how to behave with people who are suffering from autism.
  • The symptoms and behaviours caused by autism vary greatly among individuals. Parents need to study and observe the behaviours and thought process of their children to prevent them from putting themselves in harmful situations.

Risk Factors for Autism Spectrum Disorders

No exact cause of autism has been found until yet. Nevertheless, some risk factors can be seen that could be a reason for autism. Some of the risk factors are:

  • Genetic
  • Exposure to environmental toxins and heavy metals
  • Being born to old parents
  • Having an immediate family member with autism.
  • Fragile X syndrome or other genetic disorders
  • Fatal exposure to the medications, valproic acids or thalidomide
  • Metabolic imbalances
  • History of viral infections
  • Low birth weight

National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) says that both genetics and environment are the base of chances for a person to suffer from autism.

How Autism is Diagnosed?

As the cause of autism is not known, so there aren't any medical tests and examinations that can diagnose autism in individuals. Diagnosis of autism depends on the observation of parents and doctors regarding the development of children.

Most of the times, paediatrician play an important role in diagnosing this condition as the symptoms of autism begin from infancy. Children are usually taken for regular consultation from a very small age. During such consultations, general observation by parents and observations help in determining if the child is suffering from this condition.

If a child is showcasing most of the symptoms mentioned in the above section, then it provides a good foundation for diagnosis. It may be difficult to determine in many cases, because there are instances where children suffering from autism do not develop many symptoms.

Some autistic children even have excellent intellectual abilities. Also, it is common for the symptoms of autism to be misunderstood as symptoms of some other diseases. These factors need to be taken into consideration during diagnosis.

Summary:The effects of this disorder is different in every individual. It is essential to have a long-term consultation with doctors to figure the best plan of action for the treatment of autism in every individual.

What is the Best Therapy for Autism?

These treatment methods can help people feel betterwith their symptoms, which involve therapies such as:

  1. Speech therapy:

    This therapy includes techniques that help children with autism to express them efficiently. It improves children’s ability to interact with other. Speech therapy is not limited to verbal communication. It also includes teaching individual to express their thoughts through pictures, gestures and writings.

  2. Occupational therapy:

    This therapy includes techniques that help children with autism to express them efficiently. It improves children’s ability to interact with other. Speech therapy is not limited to verbal communication. It also includes teaching individual to express their thoughts through pictures, gestures and writings.

  3. Applied Behaviour Analysis:

    In this therapy, the first step is to analyse the behaviour of individuals with autism. After that, any negative or potentially harmful behaviour is gradually removed and positive behaviour is encouraged through positive reinforcement, i.e., rewarding them for positive behaviour. Anger management is also important if individuals seem to get irritated and agitated frequently.

These therapies will produce better results when they are applied in early stages. So children are more likely to benefit from them compared to adults.

What is the Best Medicine For Autism?

Medicine: Autism causes varying symptoms in individuals. Every person suffering from this disorder displays different behaviours and issues. So depending on the symptoms of individual, certain medications are prescribed by doctors following a specific case study.

As such, there aren't many medications that can be generally prescribed for all cases of autism. The only category of medications that is approved by the FDA specifically for autism are antipsychotics, namely Risperidone and Aripiprazole. These are used to treat symptoms of psychosis, depression, aggression and irritation is people having autism.

Can Autism be cured?

There is no such cure for autism, however, some therapies and treatment considerations can be taken to lower the risk of symptoms. The treatments are as follows:

  • Play therapy
  • Behavioural therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Autism patients need relaxation. Massages, blanket therapy, meditation also might help.
Summary: There is no cure for autism. All we can do is be careful at the time of pregnancy. If there is an autistic person in the family, provide a calm and peaceful environment and help him/her to tackle the situation.

Can Autism be Prevented?

The cause of autism is unknown, hence, there is no such prevention technique as well. Doctors believe that autism could be an outcome of a genetic disorder. Other than that it could be a result of something a mother experiences or does that could be harmful to the baby during pregnancy.

Now, while we do not have a preventive measure for autism, we can increase the chances of having a healthy baby.

  • Adopt some lifestyle changes like:
  • Live a healthy life, exercise regularly, eat healthy food.
  • Don't take drugs during pregnancy
  • Strictly prohibit alcohol during pregnancy
  • If you have an existing health condition, seek treatment for it.
  • Get all the needed vaccinations

Can autism be detected at birth?

The newborn baby might have a birth defect if the mother is exposed to certain chemicals. And it's not possible at the time of pregnancy, for the doctors to find out whether the baby will be born with autistic disorders.

Can autism be reversed?

According to a study, some children, if correctly diagnosed at an early stage may lose every sign of symptoms as they grow up. Some children, with very severe conditions, may never be able to communicate or make eye contact but other children could live a relatively normal life.

What Foods are Good For Autism?

Studies have suggested that some food and dietary choices can have positive impact in individuals with autism. These include:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids

    Omega 3 fatty acids are known to boost neurological function and brain development in otherwise healthy individuals. That is why they are also recommended for people with autism. However, research has not proven definitely that it can bring improvement in individuals suffering from autism.

  • Magnesium supplements

    Magnesium is known to improve certain conditions like short attention span, problems with concentration and anxiety. Since these symptoms are commonly observed in people who are suffering from autism, so magnesium supplements can help to improve such symptoms.

  • Melatonin supplements

    People with autism often have trouble sleeping and relaxing. Lack of sleep aggravates other symptoms and behaviours caused be autism. Melatonin supplements can help such individuals to get better sleep and relaxation which in turn, improves other behavioural aspects of autism.

  • Gluten free and dairy free diets

    Individuals with autism can be affected negatively by dairy products and foods that are rich in gluten. So a gluten free and dairy free diet is recommended. Since avoiding dairy products can cause calcium deficiency, so other non-dairy foods that are rich in calcium must be consumed by individuals affected by autism.

Overall, it is important to consider that all these treatments and dietary options are no definite guidelines for autism.

Can diet have an impact on autism?

There is no such thing as a diet pattern for autistic people, however, some autism advocates are in search of some food that could lower the symptoms of autism. The results have found that artificial additives like preservatives, colours and sweeteners must be avoided.

What are the Home Remedies For Autism?

Most of the home remedies for autism include providing proper diet, supplements, and therapies. It is essential to list out foods to eat and foods to avoid. Generally, it is recommended to eat a magnesium-rich diet, vitamin D-rich diet, fish oil, essential oil, etc.

It is advised to avoid gluten, sugar, soy, etc. Communication therapy, behavioral and speech therapy is to be practiced at home so as to make the patient feel safe and positive. Finally, Ayurveda and Chinese therapy can also be sought as alternative natural home therapies.

Summary: Autism Autism is a psychological disorder that impairs the ability to communicate in an individual. It is often seen in children, it affects their physical, social, and cognitive ability to perform daily life activities.


Popular Questions & Answers

View All

My son is 6.5 years old. He has been diagnosed ...


Dr. Shaishav Patel


Dear parents, autism is an important disease and not to be underestimated. Your child is having m...

My daughter has been on guanfacine for adhd for...


Dr. Sampath V


General information that may be helpful. Guanfacine is a medication commonly used to treat adhd s...

Namaste, my 9 year son diagnosed as asd at the ...


Dr. Shraddha Lotlikar


Hi lybrate-user I think you should contact your doctor for these changes. 5 mg of axepta may not ...

I am diagnosed with adhd, ocd, anxiety and tour...


Dr. Sartaj Deepak


Mirtazapine (nassa not ssri) is far better in inducing sleep compared to venlafaxine. Venlafaxine...

Hello doctor. I am sonam and I have a beautiful...


Dr. Gopika K.S


Children with autism disorder syndrome are very particular about the choice of food. They may be ...

Table of content

Content Details
Profile Image
Written ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant Singh Doctor of Medicine,MD - Consultant Physician,MDGeneral Physician
Need more help 

15+ Years of Surgical Experience

All Insurances Accepted

EMI Facility Available at 0% Rate

Find Psychiatrist near me


Ask a free question

Get FREE multiple opinions from Doctors

posted anonymously

Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice