Autism and Its Diagnosis

Published on October 16, 2019

By Andrew Adler, Ph.D., Director and Clinical Psychologist, Adler Family Centre

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a diagnosis that describes individuals who have difficulties with social interaction and communication and engage in repetitive behaviour or inflexible thinking, among other difficulties. Those with ASD may have developed little language and have great difficulty interacting with others. On the other hand, some individuals with ASD have well-developed language skills but struggle to effectively socialise and communicate with others. Regardless, Autism can severely undermine a person’s ability to communicate, develop relationships and succeed in school and other settings.

The widespread and increasing attention given to Autism among children and teenagers has raised parents’ awareness about this disorder. At the same time, many parents have become worried, and sometimes preoccupied, that their child has Autism. It is important that only medical professionals, such as clinical psychologists, with the appropriate, specialised training and expertise, make a diagnosis of ASD. Nevertheless, all parents should pay close attention to their child’s development. I recommend that parents seek a medical professional’s advice if any of the following signs of Autism are observed, regardless of the child’s age:

  • Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
  • Struggles with understanding other people’s feelings
  • Remains nonverbal or has delayed language development
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings
  • Has highly restricted interests
  • Performs repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning
  • Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colours

Category(s):Autism spectrum disorders, Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development

Written by:

Andrew Adler, Ph.D.

Andrew Adler, Ph.D. is the director of the Adler Family Centre and the Honorary Consultant (Psychology) at OUHK-LiPACE. He is a licensed psychologist in New York State (US) and has specialised in evaluating and treating a wide range of psychological difficulties for the past 20 years. He earned doctoral and master degrees in clinical psychology from Yale University after graduating Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. He taught at Yale University and supervised medical students as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at New York Medical College. In his work in hospitals, clinics and private practice, Dr. Adler has evaluated and treated the full range of psychological difficulties experienced by children, adolescents, adults and their families. Prior to moving to Hong Kong, he was a psychologist in Shanghai for three years, treating and assessing children and adolescents, both expats and local residents.