Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) encompass a broad group of conditions characterised by alterations in the development of the central nervous system (CNS), resulting in varying degrees of cognitive and/or behavioural symptoms. (Cheroni C. et al., 2020). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other conditions, including learning disorders, communication disorders, motor disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are groups under NDD’s diagnosis.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is known as a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. ASD characteristics typically detected at early childhood but is often not diagnosed until much later and symptoms generally appear in the first 2 years of life. People who are diagnosed with ASD have different ways of moving, learning, and paying attention. They also often have difficulty with interaction and social communication and are usually presented with restricted or repetitive behaviour. The symptoms affect their ability to function in school, work, and other areas and activities of their lives.

Examples of social communication and interaction characteristics related to ASD can include:

  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact
  • Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad or angry by 9 months of age.
  • Does not response by name by 9 months of age
  • Does not point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age

On other hand, people with ASD also presented with unusual behaviours or interests that include:

  • Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (called echolalia)
  • Plays with toys the same way every time
  • Is focused on parts of objects
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Has obsessive interests

National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities)

According to National library of Medicine, Autism is called as “spectrum” disorder because people with ASD can have a range of symptoms. It is an umbrella term that covers different levels of autism. This means that different people might experience different types and severity of symptoms. ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and is more common among boys than among girls. The Nasional Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom) stated that ASD have been estimated to occur as many as 1 in 68 newborns.

What are the causes of ASD?

There is no specific cause of ASD. Research suggests that autism can develop from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental influences. These influences can increase the risk for people or that child to develop autism. However, the increased risk for one person can be different for another person. For example, some people who are exposed to an environmental risk factor for autism will not necessarily will develop the disorder. Similarly, to some gene changes associated with autism can also be found in people who don’t have the disorder.

Based on recent studies, many treatment approaches are available depending on the severity and comorbidities and have proven benefits. The varied symptoms and functioning levels of autistic individuals require individualised treatments. (Lordon R. et al.) One of the important interventions to address communication, social skills, play, daily living competencies, academic skills, and inappropriate behaviour is educational and behavioural intervention. Is it best to provide early intervention as soon as possible, immediately after diagnosis, or even in the case of a suspected diagnosis of ASD. The involvement of parents, family, and peers during training is also important.

For more information on tools and modalities for early intervention, visit!