Every child grows and develops at their own pace, with milestones established to mark the average age that most children learn specific tasks in areas of learning, playing, speaking and acting. But in some cases, some kids may start to struggle with many basic areas of development. There are various possibilities, and one of them could be Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In Singapore, about one in 150 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), with at least 400 new cases diagnosed annually. The neurodevelopmental disability, caused by abnormalities in brain function, can affect children and adults from all walks of life. This can impact them in being able to develop and maintain meaningful relationships as they suffer from language deficits, display repeated behavior, and are often inflexible with changes.
Recognising the signs is important as it allows for early intervention and support, which can play a part in their long-term outcomes and overall well-being. While a formal diagnosis is usually made by a healthcare professional or specialist, parents, caregivers, and educators can play a crucial role in observing and reporting potential signs.
Dr Sim Zi Lin, a psychologist at Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) shares more about identifying autism in children, at what age can the signs be spotted, how caregivers can lend support and more.