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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder | Affinity Health

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, says that is especially true for parents of autistic children.


The month of April celebrates World Autism Day (2nd April). When it comes to raising an autistic child, finding a support network that includes medical professionals and other parents who have gone through the same experience may make all the difference.

What Is ASD?

Autistic spectrum disorder, ASD for short, is a long-term, chronic neurological and developmental condition that manifests in early childhood.


Due to the variety of symptoms, ASD is referred to as a “spectrum” disorder. People with ASD may have difficulty communicating with you, might spend a lot of time arranging things, or might say the same words repeatedly. Some battle to perform effectively at school, work, and other of life. Often, people with ASD appear to be living in “their own world” at times.

Learn More: What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

What Causes ASD?

A greater number of children are being diagnosed with autism, but the reasons behind this are still a mystery. People with autism have been discovered to have both rare and common genetic abnormalities, suggesting a genetic component.


The interplay of genetic and environmental variables is becoming an increasingly popular research topic. If a pregnant woman is exposed to dangerous toxins, she may cause a genetic mutation in her kid that will result in autism. Despite some beliefs, childhood vaccines have not been linked to autism.

Learn More: The Do’s & Don’ts of Vaccination
How is ASD Diagnosed?

Diagnosing ASD begins with a screening for the condition, often when children are under two. In the absence of treatment for ASD, early intervention can help alleviate symptoms and enhance overall well-being.


At a child’s 18-month and 24-month wellness check-up, a doctor or paediatrician will check for signs of ASD. These signs may include:

  • Not making eye contact with others
  • Not showing emotional expressions such as smiling or laughing
  • Delayed language and speech developmental milestones
  • Repetitive body movements (rocking, spinning or flapping of hands)
  • An obsession with certain toys or objects
  • Difficulties coping with changes in routine


Additional testing and treatment may be needed if the results indicate that the child has ASD.

How to Help an Autistic Child Thrive

Discovering that your child has or may have ASD can be scary for parents. You may be unsure of the best way to help your child or be conflicted by your doctor’s treatment recommendations. While it is true that ASD is an incurable, lifelong disorder, that does not mean you cannot make a significant difference to how your child copes with day-to-day life.


Some of the most talented people in history are thought to have had ASD, including scientist and mathematician Albert Einstein, movie director Tom Burton, environmentalist Daryl Hannah, and even Oscar award-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins.


“The good news is that there are numerous treatments that can assist children in learning new abilities and overcoming a variety of developmental obstacles,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


“There are a variety of resources available to assist you in meeting your child’s unique educational and developmental needs and ensuring that your child has the best possible start in life.”


Speak to your healthcare provider for expert advice on how to help a child with ASD or contact Autism South Africa. This organisation promotes the rights and advance the interests of all those within the autism community.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance. We offer a wide range of cover options at affordable rates. Medical cover includes access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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