by Dr.Shokry Alemam, Specialist psychiatry

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting social communication, with repetitive patterns of behavior

 Social communication:

  • Inability of developing and maintaining relationships with others.
  • Impaired nonverbal communicative behavior
    • Poor eye contact
    •  Total lack of facial expressions or use of gestures
    •  Poor integrated verbal or nonverbal communication
  • Impaired social and emotional reciprocity.
    • Abnormal or failure of back and forth conversation
    • Reduced sharing of interests
    • Failure to initiate or respond to social interactions

 Repetitive patterns of behavior:

  1. Repetitive motor movements/ use of objects, or speech.
  2. Insistence of sameness
  3. Restricted fixated interests
  4. Hypo/hyper reactivity to sensory input
  • Symptoms range in severity, so the support of each individual varies according to the severity of symptoms.
  • Diagnosis mostly by the age of 2, but assessment can take place at any point of time, transitioning at age of 3 years
  • Diagnosis can be done using DSM criteria, behavioral observation, interview with caregivers, medical and behavioral history.
  • The aim of diagnosis is to determine the medical course of treatment or required services.
  • 30% of autistic children have mental subnormality by different degrees
  • The average prevalence of autism is 1%
  • Male : female ratio is 4:1
  • Not all school aged children with autism require special education.
  • Educational performance doesn’t mean academic performance only, but also includes personality, emotional and social intelligence development.
  • Social and academic challenges may increase need for support and services
  • Many children begin first grade without official diagnosis
  • 25% of autistic children have speech delay, which may be the cause of discovering the diagnosis of autism.
  • Most of autistic children suffer from irritability, insomnia, and may be accompanied by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


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