What is Autistic Spectrum Disorder

By | 12/01/2016

Early diagnosis Autism

Autism, also known a Autistic Spectrum Disorder, is a developmental disorder that limits the persons social skills and makes it hard for them to interact normally with other people.  They have poor communication skills and have repetitive patterns of behavior and  activities.

The term Spectrum is related to the wide range of difficulties the person experiences and also to what degree these difficulties  have affected them.

Children with Autism have narrow interests and usually play alone and may become attached to unusual things.  They do not cope well with change and play with only a few of their toys.  They may also have unusual behaviors such as flapping their hands or rocking and will often walk on their toes.  These children will line their toys up in a row.  They can become distressed by sounds or movements and other things that are normal every day occurrences.

Children with Autism may not understand what is said to them and may not be able to tell you what they want or need.  These children need routines and consistency.  They find change distressing and cope better when everything stays the same.

Older children and adults with Autism cannot understand other people and will miss the signals when someone is becoming angry or upset.  This makes it difficult for them to understand what is happening around them.

All of these difficulties they have can lead to them having a ‘meltdown’ due to the build up of their stress levels.

When the child has a meltdown they can scream continuously, rock and flap their hands.  Many people wrongly see this as a tantrum.  This is not the case.  It is a release of all the built up tension inside them that they can no longer cope with.

Is there a cure for Autism?

Even though Autism CAN NOT be cured nor will your child grow out of it, there is a lot that can be done to help them.   Early diagnosis and intervention is important.

Trust your instincts

You know your child better than anyone and if you think there is a problem don’t rest until you find a doctor who will listen to you and refer your child to a specialist.  Don’t even wait until you get a final diagnosis as  the assessments may take some time.

Every person with Autism is unique and that is why  the parents will need professional help from experts who will design a special program for the child and his specific problems.  The earlier a child gets the help he needs the more likely it is that the treatment will work.  Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your child’s development and reduce the symptoms of autism.

Some tips for parents.

  • Educating your self about Autism and the treatment options so you are ina position to make informed decisions.  Make sure you are involved in all treatment decision.
  • Learn what your child’s triggers are.  What makes the child disruptive and what can you do to get a positive outcome. Find what is stressful for him, what he finds calming, enjoyable, uncomfortable.  If you know what the cause is you may be able to prevent what is causing the difficulty.
  • Your child is special and you need to enjoy those differences and not dwell on how different he is to other children.  His successes are far greater than those children without Autism and should be celebrate joyously.  When your child feels loved and accepted it will help him more than anything.
  • Many things other children learn automatically  your child will have to learn and no one will be able to predict what lies ahead.  Take each day as it comes and don’t look ahead.  This moment in time is the only one any of us have any control over.  Never give up on your child.


Get your child diagnosed early and if you know there is a problem find a doctor who will listen.  Early intervention makes it more likely for your child to respond to treatments.  Be your child’s advocate and be part of every decision made about his treatments.  Love him and support him, he depends on you.

Don’t ever listen to the misconceptions about Autism.  Click Here to see what some of  these misconceptions are.

Parents of Autistic children also need help and support.  Seek it out and accept it.

If you are the parent of an Autistic child or know someone who is I would like to hear from you.  Share your successes and disappointments or maybe just get a load off your chest and leave a message for me.  If you do not want your comment published on my site I will totally respect that so just add a note at the end say NFP (not for publication).  My very best wishes to you all.

Nanna Knows what you need in your tookit



6 thoughts on “What is Autistic Spectrum Disorder

  1. Michelle

    Hi Magaret

    What a beautiful story about Autism. Although this isn’t a topic I would normally research I am pleased I read your article.

    I had a friend with a child who was diagnosed with Austism at age 9. Unfortunately she had been through schooling without anyone knowing of her condition. Forever in trouble, always having apparent tantrums and disrupting the class. Everyone thought she was just a terrible child.

    Fortunately a kind teacher requested a medical examination, the rest is history. Your article was a sound reminder of how easy it can be to dismiss such a condition. Excellent read, thank you.

    Kind Regards


    1. admin

      Hi Michelle,

      Unfortunately this happens far too often to children who have not been diagnosed It is a shame she didn’t get help sooner but this does not mean she can’t be helped. I am surprised her teachers did not pick up on the problem sooner.

      Even after being diagnosed there will still be people who see her meltdowns as tantrums and say she should be able to control them. This of course is simply not true.

      Thank you for you comment. I hope she will now get the help she needs and her parents also get the help they need.

      Best wishes


      I am sure she is high functioning and quite intelligent otherwise she would not have gotten this far at school.

  2. Dara

    Hello Nanna! This post hits home for me. About 3 years ago, my oldest son’s teacher came to me about having him evaluated. Personally I didn’t see any of his behaviors as “different”, and when the school counselor finished the assessment and said “autism” I was floored!
    She described some of the behaviors my son was showing, and the only thing I could think as she was describing them was “Me too!”
    They say he’s on the “low end” of the spectrum, meaning he’s pretty high functioning. It was strange at first to think of him as Autistic, since he reminds me SO MUCH of myself and my behaviors. Maybe if they were better able to diagnose this when I was young, I would have been too.

    1. admin

      Hi Dara,

      When I had a diagnosis of Autism for one of my family I was upset. After learning more about it I started to think it had come from me.

      If you live in Australia you should get a confirmation diagnosis from a Pediatrician that specializes in Autism and get in touch with the Autistic Association.

      If your son is High functioning the interventions will help him a lot.

      Stay strong and always be there for him.


  3. JesseNY

    Great post on autism. Maybe an introduction to why you are writing about autism? Do you or a loved one suffer from it? It might be beneficial to include non-profit organizations for support, celebrities with autism and/or celebrities with autistic children. Also an image or two help break up the text you make it more engaging would be helpful

    1. admin

      Thank you Jesse,

      I wrote the article for a couple of reasons, One being yes my family has been touched by Autism and I know how stressful it is for the parents and the child. The other is my nursing put me in contact with some of these children and their parents I did add a link and if anyone wants more information all they have to do is Google Autism as there is a lot of information out there.

      It would have been better to be broken up with images but honestly I was at a loss as to what the best type of image I could use that didn’t upset or offend and so decided not to include any.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *