The number of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Philippines and other countries worldwide has almost doubled in the past six years and the number is still rising. 

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that presents with difficulty in social interaction, communication, and emotions. It has been around for many years with an increasing prevalence, but there are still thoughts and ideas about autism going around that may not be true. Find out what you need to know to recognize autism early in your child:

Symptoms start to emerge at 6-12 months

Keep a close eye to spot the problem early on. There may be developmental delays or signs that may point to autism. This includes poor eye contact, limited social interest and smiling, poor response to name, language delays, and temper abnormalities. It would be best to catch the warning signs if you are aware of what you are looking for. “The exact cause of ASD is still unknown and it is believed to be mainly genetic in origin, but environmental factors are also risk factors for ASD”, says Dr. Rita Grace Villadolid, Child Developmental Pediatrician of ManilaMed – Medical Center Manila.

Difficulty in social interaction

Your child might have trouble in approaching other people, or even children with the same age. They might not understand people’s feelings and nonverbal cues, and even might lack interest in what someone is talking about. Dr. Maria Isabel O. Quilendrino, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician of ManilaMed – Medical Center Manila. says “as the parents who are always around them, they have this attitude towards you too, but it is important to remember the fact that autism is not caused by bad parenting, it is a neurological disorder”.

Restrictions in play and behavior

Some children have various repetitive behaviors. Some behaviors include repetitive speech and motor movements, resistance to change, fixated to interests, and hyper/hypo-reactivity to sensory inputs or unusual sensory interests. You might notice your child staring at lights, repeatedly touching objects in a set order, and a need for a set schedule or routine.

No two people living with autism are the same, and it's always best to consult with a pediatrician.

No two people living with autism are the same, and it’s always best to consult with a pediatrician.

Not all symptoms automatically point to autism. If you noticed some of the mentioned concerns, you may share this with your child’s doctor. No two people living with autism are the same, the signs and symptoms of autism vary in every child. It is not easy to learn that your child or the child of a loved one has a developmental condition like ASD. Being informed about the disorder will help mitigate any confusion or fear. It is a fact that early detection and intervention makes all the difference. You can help your child grow and develop well if you educate yourself on what’s normal.

You may visit ManilaMed – Medical Center Manila’s Child Development Enrichment Center. They offer comprehensive developmental evaluation, occupational therapy, physical therapy, reading program, and speech and language therapy services. This is available every Monday-Saturday at 9:00am-6:00pm. Contact 523-8131 loc 7795/7796 or email childdev@manilamed.com.ph for any concerns.