What do you know about Autism?

April is World Autism Awareness month. Throughout the month, people around the world focus on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support. Let’s see what people in Hong Kong know about Autism and what YOU know about Autism.

early-signs_q1What are the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism is characterized by deficits in social communication and social interactions and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. It can be associated with several other features, Including language impairment.


What is ASD? How might somebody get ASD?

Individuals who have Autism are born with the condition, although the age at which the symptoms become apparent vary. Its cause is predominately genetic, and there is no evidence vaccines are a factor.

How do you think you might be able to recognize individuals with ASD?

In general, individuals with Autism look like anyone else. They may standout in certain situations due to behavioral differences.

What are the treatments for autism?

The most effective treatment is High-quality intensive behavioral therapy, received at a young age.

early-signs_q1How is ASD diagnosed?

There is no medical test that can reveal whether or not somebody has ASD. There are some observational tools that have some validity, though typically the diagnosis is made by a professional Who is skilled in autism assessment.

early-signs_q2At what age can a child be diagnosed?

In the old days, people were usually not diagnosed with ASD until they made it to school. Then it became more common for diagnosee to be made by the age of three. But nowadays, the diagnosis can be made as early as 18 months and some signs can be identified by as early as 6 months.

Are there any features that all individuals with ASD have?

While individuals with ASD must have social deficits and certain behavior patterns, there is no symptom that all individuals with ASD have. For example, deficits in eye contact are quite common, but are not universal.

Is it clear who has the disorder?

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder really are on a spectrum. There are people who demonstrate obvious impairment, individuals who are indistinguishable from typically developing people and everything in between. Beliefs that individuals with ASD all have lower IQs, don’t talk, or socially disinterested are quite common. But the reality is that most people with ASD do not have those traits.

early-signs_q1For how long do you think ASD symptoms will persist?

While ASD is a life-long condition, the extent to which symptoms persist depends upon many factors, including level of cognitive impairment. However, with high-quality early intensive intervention, the degree to which symptoms persist can be significantly reduced or eliminated in some individuals.

early-signs_q2Can ASD develop in adulthood?

ASD is a condition that, by definition, begins in childhood. However, some individuals, especially those who are more mildly impacted, may not be diagnosed until adulthoodDo you think individuals with ASD would want to have social interactions?

For sure nearly all individuals with ASD want to have social interactions. Their level of interest and how they express it may be different from how typical people express their interest and the interactions they want to have may be atypical in one way or another; however, there is no doubt that interest is there.

Are there any employment possibilities for individuals with ASD?

Individuals with ASD can hold a range of competitive jobs. However, individuals with ASD tend to be underemployed. In other words, if they are employed, they tend to be employed at levels below their skill set. There are various reasons for this dynamic, including people with ASD having difficulties with social networking, job interviewing, and so on. These challenges speak to the need for holistic intervention at all ages that does not focus solely on traditional academic curricula and prioritizes social development and learning how to learn skills.

Dr. David Fischer

Behavioral Consultant

Information provided by:

Dr. David Fischer received a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University, USA, advised by Dr. Sandra Harris. Since 1999, he was worked in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis and with individuals diagnosed with a developmental disability. He completed his pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the Marcus Institute in Atlanta, Georgia working in the severe behavior unit, short-term-out-patient clinic, feeding disorders unit, and early intervention clinic. From 2007 – 2011, he trained public school teachers to instruct and manage the behavior of their students diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder. He also was the clinical coordinator of the Asperger’s College Program, which provides support services to Rutgers students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder.

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