Medical information

Autistic spectrum disorder

In England about 1 in every 100 children has an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

Boys are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop an ASD than girls.

Causes of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)
Although there has been much research, 90% of cases of ASD have no underlying medical condition. Of the remaining 10% medical causes include Fragile X syndrome and Rett syndrome. The term ‘spectrum’ is used because the symptoms of ASD can vary from child to child from mild to severe.

There are three main types of ASD:

  1. Autistic Disorder
  2. Asperger Syndrome
  3. Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

Aspergers Syndrome is at the milder end of the autism spectrum. People with Asperger Syndrome can find it harder to read the signals that most of us take for granted. This means they find it more difficult to communicate and interact with others which can lead to high levels of anxiety and confusion.

Symptoms of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)

  • Problems and difficulties with social interaction which can appear as a lack of understanding and awareness of other people’s emotions and feelings.
  • Impaired language and communication skills which can show as delayed language development or an inability to start or properly take part in conversations.
  • Unusual patterns of thought and physical behaviour like making repetitive physical movements.
  • These can show as hand tapping or twisting and developing set routines of behaviour which can then cause the child to become very upset if the routines are then broken. 

Treatments for autistic spectrum disorder
There is currently no cure for autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) but there are a range of specialist education and behavioural programmes, often known as interventions, which have proved effective in improving the skills of children with ASD.

Daniel and his family talk about how cycling has helped them all to cope with autism