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An Initiative of National Trust
for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy,
Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India
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Amogh - Autism Mascot


1. How is Autism different from intellectual disability?

In intellectual disability (or mental retardation), the individual has a delay in his or her development of thinking and understanding. This includes how much the person can understand, retain the information and use it appropriately when required. Such individuals when they have an IQ test will score much below others of their own age. In Autism, the problem is of a difficulty in the use and understanding of the way we communicate with each other. The majority of individuals with Autism will have a normal IQ; but a significant number (almost 1 in 3) will have varying degrees of intellectual disability.

2. Is Autism present at birth?

Autism is a disorder of the brain which is present at birth. However the symptoms may appear later or only be recognised as the child grows. By 30 months of age, parents will have noticed unusual behaviours especially in the way the child communicates with others. Some children with Autism may seem to be developing normally until 18 months and then suddenly loose language and communication skills which they previously had acquired.

3. Are there any known genetic causes for Autism?

Though we do not know the cause for Autism however, scientists are convinced that there is a play of many factors especially own genes and the way that these interact with the environment. The reason we know that there genes are responsible is that in identical twins both will have Autism though of often varying severity. It has also been noted that when a family has one child with Autism; there is a small but increased risk of the second child also being on the spectrum.

4. Is Autism curable?

Since the causes of Autism have not been established at present, there is no known cure for Autism and it is a lifelong disorder.

5. Does Autism occur more frequently in any particular socio-economic class?

No, Autism is not restricted to any socio-economic class, geographical, religious or cultural groups.

6. Are there any genetic tests available for Autism?

Not at present, though there may be co-existing conditions such as Down Syndrome or Fragile X which do have tests.

7. What are the known causes for Autism?

As mentioned above, causes have not been established. However, Autism may be due to such factors as maternal rubella (particularly when deafness and blindness is present), encephalitis, meningitis, or co–exist with fragile X syndrome, microcephaly, and tuberous sclerosis. Seizures are also common among individuals with Autism. Additionally, autism may result due to the interaction between environmental and genetic factors. Prenatal exposure to insecticides and pesticides, and air pollution (due to vehicular traffic) are suggested as causes of Autism in children. Maternal conditions, such as gestational diabetes and metabolic abnormalities double the risk of Autism for the foetus.

8. What are the alerting signs of Autism in a child?

Please see Section on Signs to watch for If you have doubts about your child’s development see the developmental table to see if he or she is developing in an age appropriate way.

9. What are the best possible treatments for Autism?

There is no ‘treatment’ for Autism since there is no cure. HOWEVER there are a number of interventions which can help. The most important thing in Autism and all other developmental disorders (such as intellectual disability) is to start these interventions as EARLY as possible. Even if you do not have a resource centre close to you; look at the tips.

10. There are different types of interventions available for Autism. How do I decide what is good for my child?

The decision about intervention depends on factors such as the age, functioning level and specific needs of your child, and the availability of professionals. If you have a pre-school child, you may want to use the Floor time or Pivotal Response Training to teach play and communication skills. A school going child would benefit by structured behavioural programs like the Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) and TEACCH. A higher functioning child should be helped to understand social situations and social demands through the use of social stories. Non-verbal children of all ages must receive training in PECS or Makaton or any other visual strategy to communicate and to understand other's communication. Sensory integration therapy is also very useful for helping children who are hypersensitive or hyposensitive to sensory information

11. Is there a connection between Autism and any vaccine?

No, there is no such connection. To protect children from various infectious diseases which may even kill or disable them all children must be vaccinated in a timely manner.

12. Can a person develop Autism because of working parents or neglect?

Autism is a biological disorder due to changes in the brain during development. Social causes such as working parents or parenting style, type of family etc. have no role in the causation of Autism.

13. Will a child with Autism actually learn, and is it worth the effort involved?

With consistent and regular intervention, all children do progress although the distances they travel will depend on how the severity of their condition. All children with Autism will benefit with intervention and care.

14. Does Autism occur more frequently in a particular type of family?

No. It is not associated with a particular type of family- whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, and belonging to any creed or culture. In research studies, certain genes have been found to be more frequently associated with Autism, also is present more commonly among siblings as well as in identical twins. Hence, Autism may run in families, but not in a ‘particular type of family’. Although only one child /person may have Autism in a family; there may be other types of language and social difficulties present in other members of that family. Siblings –especially brothers rather than sisters- will also have an increased risk of having .Autism is found in families at all levels of society.

15. If my first child has Autism what is the possibility of second child having the same condition?

In families with one child with Autism, the risk of another child suffering from the same condition increases. This increase is more for brothers than sisters, but we do not have accurate figures for the rise in risk for Indian families. In Western societies, the risk that a brother or sister of an individual who has ‘idiopathic’ (i.e. of unknown cause) will also develop is around 4%. Brothers also have higher additional risk of 4 to 6% risk for a milder condition that includes language, social or behavioural symptoms. The increase in risk for sisters is only about 1 to 2 %.

16. Is Autism because of poor nutrition during pregnancy?

Nutritional causes have not been definitely identified as a reason for Autism. But good nutrition, adequate exercise and rest to the mother can prevent many other conditions in the unborn child.

17. Is Autism because of any kind/severe kind of illness during the pregnancy of mother? Is Autism because of any side effect of medicine during the pregnancy?

Yes. Severe illness in the mother may be associated with difficulties during childbirth, poor birth weight in the baby, premature birth etc. Some illnesses such as German measles (uncommon in India) and medicines such as valproic acid and thalidomide may be associated with Autism.

18. Can people with Autism marry?

Yes. Every human being has a right to lead as normal a life as possible. Every child has some special ability to give to family and society and they should receive the resources to nurture these special abilities. However the challenges that an adult with Autism may have, should not be ‘hidden’; but these difficulties should be supported by the family. Since there is a wide range of functioning on the spectrum there will be persons with Autism who can marry, however many of them may be physically mature but may have difficulties in communicating and managing their emotions and will need family support to maintain the relationships.

19. Is there any genetic counselling available in India?

Yes, in some hospitals especially in the bigger cities.

20 .Why do we see more and more cases of Autism now?

There is no evidence for a true increase in the occurrence of Autism, but we cannot completely exclude this possibility. It is true that fewer children were diagnosed with Autism in the past. But it is not clear if the rise in cases is due to a true increase or due to increased awareness, or clear guidelines on how to diagnose the disorder.

21. Is any standard way to manage a child with Autism in India?

Every child with Autism is unique and different. Hence a ‘standard’ way to manage children does not exist. See here for the variety of interventions being used and how to find centres in India which deliver them

22. Do parents need any training for care of their child who has Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disorder which affects the way a young person communicates and responds to others. As a result many families do not know how to effectively communicate with their child Autism who may often be in a ‘world of his own’. This can result in poor communication patterns within families. Once the diagnosis has been confirmed the parents will need to understand the difficulties their child has. Thereafter, a structured parent training program would allow parents and families overcome these challenges. There are a number of parent centric training programs for ASD usually in the larger metros of India. However there are things you can do yourself.

23. Will social support (psycho education/counselling) help to improve the condition of the child with Autism?

Family psycho-education (which includes explaining the meaning of the word “Autism” and how it affects the individual child and family) is the first step for managing any child. Bringing parents, extended family members and siblings on board helps children with Autism cope and adjust better. Knowing that they are not to blame, and finding out more about the disorder also helps the family cope better.

24. Will genetic or other research on Autism provide solutions or create further problems for future generations?

Every scientific advance has been associated with good and bad results depending on how it is used and the intention behind the use. Thus research on Autism will provide results, but whether they are used for good or bad, will depend on human beings.

25. Is it true that children with Autism create a lot of mental stress on other family members?

Any disorder or long standing condition in a family member requires commitment of time and emotions from the family. Since Autism is present since infancy, it does need more understanding and cooperation from the family. But if parents and other members of the family work together in cooperation, looking after a ‘special’ family member can be an enriching experience.

26. Will a child with Autism in the family mean that parents or siblings will develop a psychiatric condition in future?

No. The child himself or herself cannot ‘cause’ another disease. If any disorder does develop it is due to other causes.

27. Who should be trained for caring of the child with Autism; either father or mother or both?

Each and every member of the family should be involved in helping and supporting the child with Autism so as to help him achieve full potential and spend as meaningful a life as possible.

28. Is there any possibility of a person with Autism developing any mental disorder?

We are all susceptible to various disorders including mental disorders. Among children with Autism this possibility is higher because having puts them at risk for other mental disorders.

29 Can alternate medicine treat this condition?

This question has been answered in detail in a different section of this website. Click here

30. Does Autism have any role in determining life span of the child (as in Down syndrome etc.)?

A person with Autism should have a normal life span. It will only be shorted if care for the child is poor; the child is deliberately neglected or has a co-existing medical problem which affects his health.

31. We read in newspapers that mobile phone usage and mobile towers cause health problems in people. Can this cause?

No evidence is available for such a reason at present.
  Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD is commonly called Autism Neuro- typical: A term used for people who do not have Autism or ASD  
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