Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the neurodevelopmental disorders commonly found in young children. Children with autism may have difficulty connecting with the world around them.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder, or autism, is a brain disorder often noted in early life. Autism affects the ability to socialize and interact, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors or interests in certain patterns characterize it.

Signs & Symptoms

Children suspected of or having autism spectrum disorder often have problems with:

  • Body language and eye interactions;

  • Social interaction;

  • Develop and maintain relationships;

  • Receiving stimuli from the senses (sensory input);

  • Rigid behavior, inflexible behavior;

  • Unusual, intense interests.

Parents can observe and detect some symptoms in children aged 1-3 years with autism such as:

  • Delayed speech;

  • Only knows how to make a few gestures (waving, high-fiving, pulling,...);

  • Do not respond when someone calls their name;

  • Avoid eye contact;

  • Not sharing your joy or concerns with others;

  • Move their hands, fingers, or entire body in other ways;

  • Have an unusual/special interest in certain objects;

  • Imitate or pretend to have unusual expressions and behaviors that they are interested in;

  • Do not show interest in sensory interactions;

  • Have specific patterns such as repeatedly repeating certain things, or arranging objects in rows;

Some severe symptoms may not be detected until the child is older and has problems such as:

  • Difficulty making friends;

  • Playing imaginative games (e.g. Children pretend and imitate adult behavior);

  • Not knowing how to behave in different social situations;

  • Having a deep, unusual interest in a certain subject or activity.

There are not two people with autism who have the same signs and symptoms. Factors such as delayed language development, problems with thinking and learning, and behavioral difficulties, are present to varying degrees in each person. That's why autism is portrayed as a "spectrum".

Causes and Risks of Autism Spectrum Disorder

There is no specific cause of autism spectrum disorder. Studies suggest that autism develops from a combination of many factors, such as genetic influences and environmental influences.

The following factors are believed to increase the risk of autism in children. It’s important to be beyond any doubt that increased risk is not the same as a cause. For example, some genetic changes associated with autism can be detected in some people who do not have this disorder.

  • Genetic influences: Changes in certain genes or genomes increase the risk of developing autism in children. If a parent has one or more of these gene changes, they may pass it on to the child's genes, even if the parent does not have autism. In some cases, genetic changes occur naturally in the embryo, or in the egg/sperm that combine to form the embryo. Warning: Most genetic changes are not a direct cause, they simply increase the risk of autism.

  • Environmental influences: Some external factors are believed to increase the risk of autism in children such as:

    • Parental age (in both parents): A study of 1,251 8-year-old children diagnosed with autism showed that first children of older parents (35 years or older) are three times more likely to have autism than third children, or other later-born children of mothers aged 20 - 34 years and fathers under 40 years old.

    • Complications during pregnancy and childbirth such as premature birth before 26 weeks, multiple births, or low birth weight.

    • The two pregnancies were less than a year apart.

Warning: Autism does not develop due to parenting style; vaccines; or nutrition; and is not a “disease” that can be transmitted to others.

Assessment & Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders

A psychologist or doctor will observe and look for signs and symptoms in the child, and talk to parents about their concerns during a developmental screening. If there are any unusual signs, the psychologist or doctor will recommend a developmental evaluation with the participation of several experts such as a doctor who specializes in treating developmental disorders, child psychologists, occupational therapists (OTs), and speech therapists.

Experts will observe and evaluate children's understanding of language and communication abilities, thinking, emotions, physical health, social skills, and personal development skills. Parents can talk to a professional about their concerns, as well as other information about their child's date of birth, developmental milestones, behavior, and family history.

Can Autism Be “Cured”?

Autism is not a disease. The brains of autistic people work differently from other people. Therefore, an autistic child will be born and grow up with autism for life.

Because autism is not a disease, no one can "cure" autism, and there is currently no treatment regimen for it. Be that as it may, some medications can help with related symptoms like depression, seizures, insomnia, and trouble focusing. Studies also show that medication is most effective when it’s combined with behavioral therapies.

  • Risperidone (Risperdal) and Aripiprazole (Abilify) are the only medications approved by the FDA to treat children with autism spectrum disorder. Risperidone can be prescribed to children aged 5-16 years, to relieve symptoms of aggression and irritability. Aripiprazole can be prescribed for children aged 6-17 years.

  • Some doctors may prescribe other medications in certain cases, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), anti-anxiety medications, or stimulants, but they are not approved by the FDA for autism spectrum disorder.

Current Popular Autism Spectrum Disorder Intervention Methods

Special education or intervention programs are designed to support children with autism early on, to reduce core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in children, as well as to develop social skills and independence in children.

In addition to allowing children to participate in the intervention program, the role of parents and caregivers plays a very important role in determining the long-term effectiveness of intervention for children.

Intervention Programs For Children With Autism

Current intervention methods for children with autism can be divided into several common approaches, presented below. An intervention program can include many different approaches.

1. Behavioral Approaches: Focus on changing behaviors by understanding what happens before and after the child's behavior. There is a lot of evidence to support this approach for treating symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Two ABA teaching styles are Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Pivotal Response Training (PRT).

2. Developmental Approaches: Focus on improving specific developmental skills, such as language skills or physical skills. One of the most popular developmental therapies for children with autism is Speech and Language Therapy, which helps improve children's ability to understand and communicate. Occupational Therapy teaches skills that help children with autism live as independently as possible, such as dressing, bathing, eating, and other human skills.

Developmental approaches are often combined with behavioral approaches. The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a broad developmental approach based on the principles of ABA, it is used with children 12-48 months of age.

3. Educational Approaches: These are given in a classroom setting. One type of educational approach is the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication - Handicapped Children (TEACCH) approach. TEACCH is based on the idea that autistic children can develop well through consistency and visual learning. This method helps teachers adjust classroom structure, thereby improving children's learning outcomes.

4. Social-Relational Approaches: Focus on improving social skills and building emotional connections in children. Some social-relational approaches require parental involvement or guidance from peers (peer mentors).

5. Pharmacological Approaches: As stated above, there are no medications that can interfere with the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Some medications may be prescribed to help with related symptoms, helping autistic people function better.

6. Psychological Approaches: Can help autistic people cope with symptoms of anxiety, depression, or some other psychological disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach that focuses on exploring the links between thoughts, emotions, and behavior. During a CBT session, the therapist and client work together to create goals and then change the way the client thinks about a situation to change how they react to the situation.

7. Complementary and Alternative Treatments: These are often used to supplement more traditional approaches, which may include special diet, herbal supplements, chiropractic care, pet therapy, art therapy, mindfulness, or some other relaxation therapy.

Some Activities For Autistic Children Parents Can Do at Home

  • Play and spend time with children, at least 3 hours/day;

  • Limit time to watch TV and interact with devices and screens;

  • Call the child's name, look into their eyes, follow the pointing finger, get the child's attention;

  • Teach communication and interaction gestures such as waving;

  • Teach children how to play with toys and interactive games with others: peek-a-boo, crawling,...;

  • Imitate the expressions, mouths, facial expressions, sounds of animals,...;

  • Speak briefly, and clearly, emphasizing main words accompanied by gestures, gestures, pictures, and toys when communicating with children;

  • Assign some simple tasks, teach children how to follow orders and requests;

  • Self-feeding, personal hygiene, dressing, not wearing left shoe;

  • Encourage children to play with friends;

  • Always encourage and praise children for even the smallest progress.

Evaluation of Developmental Disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders for Children at the Vietnam-France Psychology Institute

Vietnam-France Psychology Institute is one of the leading units specializing in providing assessment and diagnosis services for developmental disorders, consultation, and psychological therapy for children and adolescents in Vietnam. We work with a team of experts from Vietnam and the French Republic, with many years of experience in diagnosis, consultation, and therapy for children under 18 years old. 

A psychological evaluation at the Vietnam-France Psychology Institute usually lasts 3.5 to 5 hours, performed by experienced experts in the evaluation room equipped with appropriate tools.

Working hours: From Monday to Saturday morning

- Morning: 8:00 - 12:00

- Afternoon: 13:00 - 17:00

Vietnam-France Psychology Institute is looking forward to accompanying families, and supporting parents and children to identify and overcome psychological difficulties with the good, dedicated, ethical experts at the Institute.

If you feel you are having symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, go to a medical facility for a timely examination and diagnosis, or contact the Vietnam-France Psychology Institute via Hotline: 0979.158.463 for specific advice. Early intervention is key to improving health and quality of life.


[1] Autism Spectrum Disorder.

[2] Durkin MS, Maenner MJ, Newschaffer CJ, Lee LC, Cunniff CM, Daniels JL, Kirby RS, Leavitt L, Miller L, Zahorodny W, Schieve LA. Advanced parental age and the risk of autism spectrum disorder. Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Dec 1;168(11):1268-76. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn250. Epub 2008 Oct 21. PMID: 18945690; PMCID: PMC2638544.

[3] What Causes Autism?

[4] What is autism?

[5] What Are the Treatments for Autism?





HEADQUARTER & PSYCHOTHERAPY CENTER: WINCO Building, 54 Tran Quoc Vuong Street, Dich Vong Hau Ward, Cau Giay District, Hanoi, Vietnam

PSYCHOTHERAPY CENTER IN HCMC: Landmark 81 & Landmark Plus, Vinhomes Central Park, 720A Dien Bien Phu Street, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District, HCMC, Vietnam

Phone: 0979.158.463 (Business hours)


Bài viết liên quan

Gọi cho tôi

Hãy gửi thông tin cho chúng tôi, nhân viên tư vấn của Viện sẽ liên hệ lại Quý khách trong vòng 24h. Thông tin của Quý khách chỉ để chúng tôi liên hệ và không gửi cho bên thứ ba.

Tài nguyên

Trắc nghiệm