We all have a need to be understood. But few among us struggle to stitch a sentence together. Conversational breakdowns are common among people who are but not limited to hard of hearing, battling autism, or suffering from speech delays.

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I think my child might have autism - what should I do?

As a parent, it is natural to wonder if your child’s development is normal. Comparing your child to their siblings or friends’ children may not always be helpful. Children develop at different rates and parenting is not a competitive sport.

How do you know when you may be worrying excessively and when you should discuss your concerns with your child’s doctor?

Read on to find out more about Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and what to do if you have concerns about your child.

What is Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

A person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) communicates, interacts, learns and behaves in ways that are different from most other people. As the name suggests, it is a spectrum, which means that each person with ASD has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The learning, thinking and problem solving skills of people on the autistic spectrum range from gifted to severely challenged.

What are the signs of autism in young children?

Autistic spectrum disorder refers to a broad range of conditions that affect each individual differently. In general, ASD is characterised by persistent challenges with social interaction, speech and communication and repetitive behaviours.

Signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3 and may include:

  • not responding to their name
  • avoiding eye contact
  • persistently preferring to play alone rather than with other children
  • not smiling when you smile at them
  • not pointing at objects to show interest or looking when another person points
    at them
  • getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell or sound
  • repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers,
    rocking or spinning
  • delayed language development - very few or no meaningful, two-word
    phrases by 2 years old
  • having trouble expressing their needs using typical words or actions
  • persistently repeating the same words or phrases
  • loss of previously acquired speech or social skills
  • repetitive play, for example, repeatedly lining toys up in a particular order

When should I consult a doctor?

Having a few of these signs does not necessarily mean that your child has ASD. The number and severity of early signs of autism vary greatly from one child to another. Some infants may show signs in their first year while in others behaviours do not become obvious until 2 or 3 years old. Many children are diagnosed later and autism can show up differently in girls and boys.

Trust your parental intuition, you know your child best. If you are concerned about your child’s speech, social interactions and behaviour, talk to a trusted health professional such as your family doctor or paediatrician. They will be able to carry out screening for autism. Screening cannot diagnose ASD but will indicate whether your child should be referred to an autism specialist team for an assessment.

Why is early assessment important?

You may have reservations about pursuing a diagnosis, fearing that your child will be labelled as different. However, if your child does have a developmental difference, getting a diagnosis can be a very positive thing. It will enable you to better understand your child and help them get any extra support they may need.

With improved therapies for ASD now available, the sooner a child is diagnosed the better. Research has shown that early intervention can improve learning, communication and social skills, as well as underlying brain development.


You know your child best - talk to a trusted health professional if you have concerns.

Fabulaa is a FREE to use mobile app, designed to help people of all ages who face communication challenges, including children with ASD.

Fabulaa is not a substitute for assessment and treatment by health professionals, but can be used as a tool alongside professional help.

The Fabulaa app can be used as a speech assistant to convert text to speech or by clicking on image cards, words or phrases to activate voice output. Fabulaa is customizable with colourful visuals and engaging features.

Fabulaa is the most affordable and accessible augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app in the GCC and is currently available in five languages.

Download it today www.fabulaa.app