Autism and Aspergers syndrome are common Autism Spectrum Disorders, also called  Pervasive Developmental Disorders. The information in these fact sheets is to help families with early diagnosis, treatment, behavior and understanding Autism and Aspergers syndrome.


Autism can dramatically affect a child's life, as well as that of their families, schools, friends and the wider community. This autism information is for everyone affected by these disorders, whether directly or indirectly.

The first section provides autism information for parents who think their child might have this disorder, or have just obtained a diagnosis. The following sections provide autism information on a range of issues, such as diagnosis, behavior, causes, communication, education and social development.



Introduction to autism
Does my child have autism? - common indicators at different ages
Assessment and diagnosis of autism
My child's been diagnosed with autism - what should I do now?




Diagnosis of autism
Long-term outcome with autism
Adults with autism
Autism as a spectrum disorder
Causes of autism
Characteristics of autism
Communication issues in autism
Autistic politics & culture

Effects of autism on education
The sensory system and autism
Autism on social development
History of autism
Autism in movies & books
Repetitive behaviors with autism
Incidence of autism
Autistic savants

Interventions for autism


AUTISM INFORMATION on comorbid disorders

Tourette syndrome

General anxiety disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder

Bipolar disorder
Dysgraphia (writing difficulties)
Dyspraxia (movement problems)
Dyslexia (reading/writing issues)
Dyscalculia (issues with numbers)
Oppositional defiant disorder
Antisocial personality disorder



Both autism and Asperger's syndrome are developmental disorders, in that they cause delays in typical development of a child across a broad range of areas.


Signs of Asperger's syndrome and autism usually will appear in the first three years of a child's life, although there is no exact age for when signs of these disorders will emerge. These signs may differ between children in type and severity as well, so autism, Asperger's syndrome and similar disorders are often seen as occurring on a spectrum.


These disorders are not intellectual disabilities or mental illnesses, or caused by poor parenting skills. Currently either Asperger's or autism can be diagnosed at birth through means such as blood tests or brain scans. Diagnosis occurs as delays are observed in the child's development.


Typical indicators of autism & Asperger's syndrome

These disorders will cause delays in a child's early development, with possible indicators from these groups:

Social skills

Cannot carry out simple instructions

Does not maintain eye contact or smile back to others

Appears happy in their own world, with little interest in others

Delays to normal development of speech

Responding to some sounds, but not human voices



Difficulty coping with changes to routines

Emotional outbursts with no apparent cause, or overly passive

Overly attached to certain objects or topics

Repetitive behavior such as rocking or flapping of the hands


The senses

Strong reaction to certain sounds

Will not look at objects directly

Eating a very restricted range of food types

Walking on tip toes

Drawn to watching certain patterns or feeling certain textures.


Play and imagination

Will only play with certain toys, possibly in unusual ways

Prefers not to play with others

Engages in only a limited range of play

Does not engage in pretend play.




All children will have both delays and sudden progress in their development. It is normal to be worried or concerned over lack of progress or unusual behaviors, and happily these are resolved eventually. However, parents are in an ideal situation to watch for potential signs of autism, Asperger's syndrome, and other developmental issues in their child.


Autism and Asperger's syndrome are developmental disorders and minimizing these developmental delays is very important for a child's long-term outcome. For this reason, early diagnosis and intervention are stressed.


INFORMATION ON Typical indicators of autism

These disorders will cause delays in a child's early development, with possible indicators in:

• Social skills

• The senses - hearing, taste, touch, sight, smell

• Play and imagination

• Behavior.

It should be stressed that a diagnosis of autism or Asperger's syndrome arises from a wide range of these indicators appearing to be a consistent theme in a child's development.


possible signs of autism in THE FIRST YEAR

There are certain milestones of development that the average child reaches within the first year of development. Some of these include:

• Standing with support by parents

• Crawling around

• Saying single words

• Waving goodbye and other simple gestures.


Not reaching these milestones does not indicate your child has symptoms of autism or Asperger's syndrome, as many children may be late developers and catch up at a later point. However it pays to look out for possible early symptoms as early intervention therapies can make a big difference if a diagnosis is reached in the years ahead. Children are usually not diagnosed until the second year at least but there are moves toward making earlier diagnoses to allow earlier intervention therapies.


Toward the end of the first year, the child may not appear to react normally to certain objects and activities. They may have an extreme reaction, or none at all. They may begin to show the first signs of repetitive behaviors such as rocking, or fixating on objects with their eyes. A lack of eye contact with other people is very common at later stages but often does not show in the first year.


possible signs of autism in THE second YEAR

• A lack of interest in other children and people

• Lack of eye contact

• Not pointing at objects that are wanted

• Not using sentences of two words by two years of age

• Losing words or language skills that were already acquired

• Repetitive behaviors such as hand flapping or rocking

• Does not look at objects you are pointing to

• Does not play pretend games

• Walking on tip toes.


possible signs of autism from TWO TO FIVE YEARS

• A lack of interest in other children and people

• Lack of eye contact

• Not pointing at objects that are wanted

• Lack of, or strange reaction to the distress of other children

• Obsessed with certain objects, toys and games

• Focus on order, routine and arrangement of objects

• Distress when these orders, routines or arrangements are disturbed

• Repetitive movements such as rocking, hand flapping, or spinning around

• Sensitivity to loud sounds that don't disturb other children

• Sensitivity to touch ie. disliking hugs or fabrics of certain clothes

• Sensitivity to smell and taste.


signs of Asperger's syndrome in Pre-teenage years

In some cases, a child may be at the milder end of the autism spectrum and developmental delays may only become obvious in the pre-teen years. Some signs of Asperger's syndrome could include:

• Lack of eye contact

• Few if any close friends

• Does not share or take turns

• Lack of communication skills, or unusual ways of talking

• Little use of non-verbal communication and gestures

• Repetitive phrases and focus on limited range of topics

• Does not show empathy toward others

• Difficulties with the 'give and take' of conversation

• Unusual gestures made when excited or distressed.


Teenage years - signs of Asperger's syndrome

In mild cases of Asperger's syndrome, developmental delays may only become evident in the teenage years. Some signs of mild Asperger's syndrome could include:

• Lack of eye contact

• Apparent lack of emotion

• Difficulty in establishing close friendships

• Literal thinking and trouble with sarcasm, irony and subtle humor

• Tendency toward obsessive and compulsive behaviors

• Inappropriate comments or behavior in social situations

• Difficulties in understanding the views, emotions and needs of others.


This autism information provides a range of fact sheets for information on causes, diagnosis, behavior issues, communication and education problems with Autism
This site was developed by Barry Morris to provide information on autism, Aspergers syndrome and other Autism Spectrum Disorders for families, health professionals and the wider community. Please note that copyright varies throughout the site. If you would like to reproduce information from this site, please note the copyright at the bottom of each page and check the Contact Us page for reproduction conditions.