1. What is Autism?


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder which emerges during the first three years of a child’s life. Its most significant symptoms are: impairments in communication and social interaction, along with limited, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. Typically, Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder can be diagnosed during the first three years of life; nevertheless, if the child was in a higher level and much more similar to his/her neurologically typical (neurotypical) friends, then the symptoms may not be identified until later in time. It must be noted that if a child is affected by severe developmental delays, this disorder will be diagnosable prior to 18 months old. The symptoms of this disorder should not be as a result of other medical or neurological conditions (such as digestive and metabolic disorders, and etc.) or as a result of one’s disability in forming sentences or in grammar.


                                     Download the PDF file on Autism’s Definition


  1. Why autism is called “autism spectrum disorder”?


Autism disorder is “a spectrum” which on one end of it are those who have functions similar to normal people and on the other end are those with severe autism symptoms. Therefore, on this spectrum, there can be found autistic people who have symptoms with various ranges of severity. One should not have all the associated symptoms to be considered as autistic and s/he can have symptoms with any level of severity.



  1. What is the rate of autism spectrum disorder prevalence?


The prevalence rate of autism spectrum disorder is 1 in every 68 child. The number of boys diagnosed with autism is higher than girls. Unfortunately, there are no definite statistics on this subject here in Iran, but it can be expected that the prevalence rate of autism in Iran is the same as global statistics of 1 per 68 child.


  1. From what age autism spectrum disorder is diagnosable?


Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are generally recognizable by the age of 3. But if the signs would be less conspicuous, they will not be detected until after the age of 3. And if the developmental delays would be severe, this disorder will be diagnosable prior to 18 months old.


  1. What causes autism spectrum disorder?


Up until now, scientists haven’t been able to discover the exact cause of autism spectrum disorder. However, some of them believe that several factors such as genetic factors, heredity, environmental problems, and life style could have a major rule in the occurrence of this disorder.


  1. What symptoms does an infant with autism spectrum disorder have?


Soon after birth, an autistic infant will seem different from other infants. Normally parents are the first people to notice the differences between their child and other children. At first, parents may associate their child’s lack of response to environment with hearing disability; however, they may discover that their child’s hearing is perfectly fine, yet he is not responsive to social stimuli like his peers. At this point, parents should consult with a pediatrician or a clinical specialist whom is experienced in childhood disorders. It must be noted that up until now, there hasn’t been a specific treatment for autism and any family belonging to any social and economic class could have an autistic child. Some behaviors that may arouse suspicions in parents during the first three years are as following:


 -Being interested in spinning devices (such as;  washing  machines, fans, and ventilators, etc.) 

 -Inability to speak at the age that they should be speaking 


  1. What measures should be taken in case of being suspicious of the child’s behavior?


The best thing that parents can do is taking their children to see a pediatric psychologist or psychiatrist. Obviously, psychologists or psychiatrists who have certain specialties but no prior experience in autism spectrum disorder, will not be able to properly diagnose the disorder and make proper prescriptions for it. Therefore, in such cases, the child should be observed and evaluated carefully by an expert psychologist or an experienced psychiatrist.


  1. Is there any particular drug for treating autism spectrum disorder?


Unfortunately, there’s no drug that cloud fully cure autism spectrum disorder and mostly, they just alleviate the side effects of this disorder.



  1. How can autism spectrum disorder be treated?


Parents should know that “there’s no known drug for treating autism spectrum disorder” and medications only reduce the side effects of this disorder. To answer the question; “How autism disorder should be treated?” we can say that any measure that could result in the rehabilitation of the child or could prevent his or her symptoms from worsening, is considered a treatment. Accordingly, following a thorough evaluation, the child with autism spectrum disorder should receive a number of educational services and rehabilitations. These children are in need of essential trainings in the fields of behavior therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, social skills training, and also training and counseling along with parents. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Pivotal Response Treatment (PVT) and Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) are some of the existing medical approaches which could improve the conditions of autism spectrum disorder and reduce its syndrome. Nevertheless, the important matter is that interventions must be done for the child, parents, peers, educational centers, etc. Team training and comprehensive evaluations bear a significant importance as well.