Understand Autism

About Autism

A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated a significant increase in the prevalence of ASD among children. In 2023, it is estimated that one in every 36 children is affected by autism, which represents an 18% increase compared to two years ago. Furthermore, when comparing the current report to the first report published 16 years ago, the prevalence of ASD had a staggering 417% increase.

The prevalence of ASD has risen to 1 in every 36 children being affected.

Recent scientific research in the United States points out that autism is not a single cause, but has multiple causes.

Any of the following risk factors in combination may cause autism:

  • Rare genetic mutation
  • Heredity
  • Environmental factors
  • Atypical brain development
  • Infections and/or diseases during pregnancy

Studies have shown that simple environmental factors do not directly lead to autism. Only the combination of high-risk genetics and environmental factors can lead to the emergence of autism. Studies have also confirmed that autism has nothing to do with mental disorders or parenting styles.

Symptoms of Autism

0 to 6 years old is the fastest period of brain development for children, and it is also the golden period of autism rehabilitation training and treatment.

When child is suspected to have the following behaviour, it is best to arrange for assessment as soon as possible so the golden period of treatment will not be missed.


THREE CHARACTERISTICS Autistic kids have before three

Social Development Barrier

Children live in their own world where they are alone, with few friends, not good at observing and seeing things, and not knowing where to go.

Communication Barrier

Delayed speech development delay, often using rigid, repetitive or parrot-style speech

Repetitive and Limited Behaviour Patterns

Insistent on certain ways of doing things, such as taking specific bus or seat on a certain route, and refusing to change the habits of daily life.

Other relevant features

  • Special perception mode
  • Overall development barrier
  • Emotional and behavioral difficulties
  • Abnormal lifestyles such as eating, sleeping
  • Unable to experience the thoughts and feelings of others
  • Special strengths and interests

Common behaviours in autistic infants

  • Delayed or absence of any speech development, only using gestures to express needs.
  • Does not want body contact from parents as a baby; does not want to attract attention.
  • Little eye contact and social interaction – always a loner.
  • Does not respond to speech, answers questions inappropriately and lacks emotional response and facial expression.
  • Unaware of danger, insensitive to or hyper reactive to changes in the environment.
  • Hyperactive with little sleep – may sleep for 4-5 hours per day.
  • Obsessively attached to objects, lacks creativity and imagination.
  • Stubborn, impulsive, unwilling to change established routines; may respond to changes with emotional fits and tantrums.

Getting along with Autism

Basic skills to communicate with people with autism

EYE CONTACT

People with autism are weak at and avoid eye contact, you should try your best to attract their attention when communicating with them, but don’t force because maintaining eye contact is a pressure for some autistic people and raise the opportunity to trigger their emotions.

SPEECH

People with autism are sensitive to sound, so when talking to them, the  tone should be soft and the words should be concise and clear.

Appropriate attitude towards people with autism

  • Treat them as one of us on equal basis.
  • Show care and support.
  • Accept them to achieve integration into the community.
  • Help them overcome their own deficiencies.
  • Encourage them to develop a normalized social life.
  • Do not set exceptionally high expectations or pamper them lest they should become frustrated or overly dependent.
  • Be patient with them and listen to them.
  • Identify and recognize their contribution to society.

Ten things Autistics may want you to know

  • I am a child with ASD but autism is not my only trait.
  • My senses are out of synch.
  • Please differentiate between what I Can’t (I am unable to) and I Won’t (I choose not to) do.
  • I can only understand the surface meaning of language.
  • My vocabulary is limited. Please be patient with me.
  • Speech may be too difficult for me. I am more visually oriented.
  • Please help me develop with things I can do. Don’t focus on those I can’t.
  • Please help me establish social interaction.
  • Please try to identify what triggers my breakdowns.
  • Love me unconditionally.

Last three words: Patience, Patience, Patience.


If you are confronted with the behavior and attitude of an autistic child who is losing his temper

In the case of autistic children without family members beside:

  1. Keep calm, watch from the side. Let him calm down without hurting yourself or others. Try to find a safer place so that he can calm down, such as asking him to sit down or stand for a while. If possible, it is best to evacuate the pedestrians and avoid putting pressure on him.
  2. Try to communicate with him and understand his situation. Use simple, clear words and a gentle and caring tone, with facial expressions and gestures (such as nodding, smiling, pat on his shoulders) to comfort and flatten his emotions.
  3. When the child is out of control, try to contact his family or notify the police or ambulance.

If you find an autistic child who is suspected of being lost, you can pay attention to the following

  1. Try to communicate with him and understand his situation. Use simple and clear words, affirmative, gentle and caring tone, with facial expressions, gestures and movements (such as nodding, smiling) to comfort and calm his emotions. Tell him that you will help him find his family, and ask him do not go away.
  2. Try giving him paper and pen to see if he can write his name and address; or let him try to call and contact his family. If he is a child with limited language skills, you should seek assistance from the police.
  3. Through a simple observation, see if he has a bracelet, necklace, name tag, key ring, collar or inner sleeve of the sleeve that can prove his identity and establish emergency contact. Don’t search him without his consent. If you cannot find any information, you should contact the police as soon as possible. If his mood is unstable or overly alarmed, you can only follow him quietly, pay attention to his whereabouts, and should seek help from other people and notify the police or ambulance as soon as possible.
  4. If you find that you can’t communicate with him, please don’t give up and leave. You should seek help from other people and notify the police as soon as possible. Don’t let the lost autistic leave before the police arrives.

Case Studies

ASD Service Providers

Autism Assessment Organization

At present, the waiting time for autism assessment and rehabilitation services is long. If parents suspect their child has symptoms of autism, it is recommended to bring their children to the maternal and child health centre for examination. After referral to the Child Assessment Centre for detailed assessment, they may also consider Accept the fee-based services provided by other private organizations. It is important to collect information from different channels and receive professional assessments to correctly grasp the child’s situation as early as possible, avoiding squatting judgments and excessive anxiety.

*All information is extracted from the Internet, the actual services and charges of various institutions and centers, please check with the relevant service groups.

Kowloon

創智薈 – 兒童潛能發展中心 – Let’s Talk

Services: Professional assessment services include IQ Test, Concentration Assessment, Autism Assessment, Comprehensive Child Development Assessment, Personality Test, etc.

  • Tel: 5222 1918

DHCAS – Central Kowloon Child Assessment Centre

Services: Target on children under age of 12 who have developmental or behavioral problems, especially those who have complex problems and need specialists to assist in the assessment. Children’s physical intelligence service will also provide services for children with other developmental problems, including emotional problems, speedy learning and problems caused by acquired brain damage.

  • Tel: 2246 6633

DHCAS – Ha Kwai Chung Child Assessment Centre

Services: Target on children under age of 12 who have developmental or behavioral problems, especially those who have complex problems and need specialists to assist in the assessment. Children’s physical intelligence service will also provide services for children with other developmental problems, including emotional problems, speedy learning and problems caused by acquired brain damage.

  • Tel: 2370 1887

DHCAS – Pamela Youde Child Assessment Centre (Kwun Tong)

Services: 服務對象是 12 歲以下有發展障礙或行為問題的兒童,特別是那些有複雜問題,需要各科專家協助評估的兒 童。兒童體能智力服務亦會為發展上有其他問題的兒童提供服務,包括情緒問題,速學障礙及由後天性腦損傷引致的問 題。

  • Tel: 2727 8474

STEP Center for Child Development

Services: Use the most authoritative and standardized assessment tools and behavioral observations to assess in detail whether a child has autism and refer it to appropriate government services.

  • Tel: 2899 2665

Fu Hong Society – Hin Dip Hong Yee Centre

Services: Provide autism diagnostic assessments and intelligent assessments for children who have doubts or assessments of special needs (eg, autism, lack of concentration, developmental delays, etc.)

  • Tel: 2324 1678

SAHK Child Development Service (Lok Fu)

Services: Medical consultants provide medical assessment/diagnosis for young children and primary and secondary school students who are suspected of having special needs, and refer to appropriate services based on assessment/diagnosis results.

  • Tel: 2866 3236

Baptist Hospital -Paediatric & Adolescent Centre

Services: The assessment and treatment services for children and adolescents’ development, mood and behaviour provided by the Centre are managed by pediatricians. Services include: child development issues such as developmental delay, size and muscle coordination or language barriers / autism or social and communication Disorders/Insufficiency/Overactivity/Children and Adolescents Emotional or Behavioral Problems/Special Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia/Children and Adolescents Eating Problems, such as Anorexia or Bulimia/Child Intelligence and Gifted Assessment

  • Tel: 2339 8461

Joyful Class

Services: Provide intelligence assessment, autism / ascottia / extensive developmental disorder assessment, attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) assessment, dyslexia assessment, etc.

  • Tel: 2332 0609

McKenzie Healthcare

Services: Providing intelligence assessment, dyslexia assessment, lack of concentration/overactivity assessment and autism assessment Autism assessment services include autism diagnostic interviews, intelligence assessment and interpretation assessment results, performance in various areas and teaching recommendations.

  • Tel: 2175 8080 / 2180 8775

Human Empowerment & Achievement Training, Caritas Family Service

Services: Provide intelligence, dyslexia, concentration and autism assessment.

  • Tel: 2338 3739

Links Child Development Center

Services: Diagnosing children: autism, concentration disorder/hyperactivity disorder, developmental delay, learning disabilities, and special learning disabilities.

  • Tel: 3111 1855

St James’ Settlement Uncle James Child Development Center

Services: Clinical psychologists diagnose children with autism or autism through appropriate standardized tests, questionnaires, and clinical behavioral observations. The psychologist will make an appropriate service referral based on the assessment results (Autism/Alphas assessment: children 2 years of age or older)

  • Tel: 2186 8451

Hong Kong Island

Potential Development Association Ltd

Services: Services include comprehensive assessment of children (standardized assessment and development of clinical assessment of learning ability), targeted treatment training, psychological and emotional behavior counseling, music development and workplace training; this Council is also for parents, education, rehabilitation, social services The industry provides professional consultation and training.

  • Tel: 2528 4096

SAHK Child Development Services (Causeway Bay, Fortress Hill)

Services: The medical consultant visits the center to provide medical assessment/diagnosis for children and primary and secondary school students who are suspected of having special needs, and refer them to appropriate services according to the assessment/diagnosis results.

  • Tel: 2866 3236

Human Empowerment & Achievement Training, Caritas Family Service (Central)

Services: Provide intelligence, dyslexia, concentration and autism assessment.

  • Tel: 2525 6265

Links Child Development Center (Wan Chai)

Services: Diagnose whether children have autism, concentration disorder/hyperactivity disorder, developmental delay, learning disabilities, and special learning disabilities

  • Tel: 2891 6007

St James’ Settlement Uncle James Child Development Center (Wan Chai)

Services: Clinical psychologists diagnose children with autism or autism through appropriate standardized tests, questionnaires, and clinical behavioral observations. The psychologist will make an appropriate service referral based on the assessment results (Autism/Alphas assessment: children 2 years of age or older)

  • Tel: 2596 2500

Quality Therapy and Education Centre (Causeway Bay)

Services: The professional team of Quality Therapy and Education Centre includes speech therapists, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, special education support instructors, special child tutors, registered social workers; assessment and treatment for those in need; for kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools And special schools provide school services, treatment, group training, etc.

  • Tel: 8103 1882 / 8103 6882 / 9624 1505

New Territories

DHCAS – Pamela Youde Child Assessment Centre (Sha Tin)

Services: Target on children under the age of 12 who have developmental or behavioral problems, especially those with complex problems that require specialists to assist in the assessment. The Children’s Physical Intelligence Service will also provide services for children with other developmental problems, including emotional problems, speedy learning and problems caused by acquired brain damage.

  • Tel: 2210 1600

DHCAS – Fanling Child Assessment Centre

Services: Target on children under the age of 12 who have developmental or behavioral problems, especially those with complex problems that require specialists to assist in the assessment. The Children’s Physical Intelligence Service will also provide services for children with other developmental problems, including emotional problems, speedy learning and problems caused by acquired brain damage.

  • Tel: 2639 1402

DHCAS – Tuen Mun Child Assessment Centre

Services: Target on children under the age of 12 who have developmental or behavioral problems, especially those with complex problems that require specialists to assist in the assessment. The Children’s Physical Intelligence Service will also provide services for children with other developmental problems, including emotional problems, speedy learning and problems caused by acquired brain damage.

  • Tel: 2468 5261

SAHK Child Development Services (Shek Wai Kok、Sha Tin)

Services: Medical consultants visit the centre to provide medical assessment/diagnosis for young children and primary and secondary school students who are suspected of having special needs, and refer to appropriate services based on assessment/diagnosis results.

  • Tel: 2866 3236 / 2336 6491

St. James’ Settlement TeenS’ World Uncle James Child Development Centre (Tin Shui Wai)

Services: Clinical psychologists diagnose children with autism or autism through appropriate standardized tests, questionnaires, and clinical behavioral observations. The psychologist will make an appropriate referral based on the results of the assessment (Autism/Alphas assessment: children 2 years of age or older)

  • Tel: 3154 9854

Brighten Development & Therapy Centre (Sha Tin)

Services: Provide child development and educational psychology assessment, and have speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological counseling, music therapy and game therapy. There are early treatment courses and social/focus group treatments for children with special learning needs. There are other services such as parent support groups, parent workshops and teacher workshops. To help low-income families, there is a fee reduction, which will reduce the financial burden on the family and allow more grassroots families to benefit, so that children in need can receive appropriate assessment and treatment as soon as possible.

  • Tel: 2786 1611

NOT SURE
WHERE TO START?

Autism Treatment / Rehabilitation Service Organization

If your kid is assessed for autism unfortunately, parents should choose the appropriate treatment based on the child’s needs such as speech therapy, game therapy, and behavioral therapy. The following are the institutions and centers that provide treatment for autism:

*All information is extracted from the Internet, the actual services and charges of various institutions and centers, please check with the relevant service groups.

Kowloon

Joyful Class (Yau Ma Tei)

Services: Tutor training (Chinese/English), speech therapy, occupational therapy, group training

  • Tel: 2332 0609

STEP Center for Child Development (Yau Ma Tei)

Services: Clinical psychological services, speech therapy, occupational therapy, comprehensive training

  • Tel: 2899 2665

Fundamentals Child Development Centre (Yau Ma Tei)

Services: Clinical Psychology, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Music Therapy, 4A Classroom (three hours of daily basic training and professional treatment)

  • Tel: 2300 1034

McKenzie Healthcare (Cheung Sha Wan)

Services: Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychological counseling and hypnotherapy services, etc.

  • Tel: 2180 8775

Links Child Development Center (Mong Kok)

Services: Occupational therapy, speech therapy, special child tutor training services, comprehensive training services

  • Tel: 3111 1855

St. James Settlement – Uncle James Child Development Centre (Prince Edward)

Services: clinical psychological services, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc.

  • Tel: 2186 8451

Fu Hong Society (Hin Dip Hong Yee Center)

Services: Individual treatment includes sensory integration, social and communication skills, large muscle development, small muscle development and pre-writing skills, writing skills, concentration, mouth muscle development and application, self-care ability.

  • Tel: 2324 1678

Little Acorn Child Development Centre (Jordan)

Services: Occupational therapy, music therapy, manual therapy, special child training services.

  • Tel: 2317 1122

Heep Hong Society (Early Education and Training Centre)

Services: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy

  • 1. Hoi Fu Centre
    Tel: 2784 1194
  • 2. Shanghai Fraternity Association Yau Lai Centre
    Tel: 2415 2077
  • 3. Fu Cheong Centre
    Tel: 2353 4001
  • 4. Pak Tin Centre
    Tel: 2784 6045
  • 5. Shun Lee Centre
    Tel: 2342 5107

Heep Hong Society:Supportive Learning Project (Prince Edward)

Services: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy

  • Tel: 2788 1289

SpeakRite Speech Therapy Clinic (Yau Ma Tei)

Services: Standardized assessment, individual training, parent group professional consultation, school/community lectures, school services, etc.

  • Tel: 2771 1135

Watchdog Early Education Centre (Jordan)

Services: Speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and music therapy, etc.

  • Tel: 2377 9666

SAHK

Services: Child and Family Support Services

  • 1. Chan Tseng Hsi Early Education and Training Centre
    Tel: 2336 6756
  • 2. Jockey Club Marion Fang Conductive Learning Centre (Pre-school Unit)
    Tel: 2336 2011
  • 3. Pak Tin Pre-school Centre
    Tel: 2779 2168
  • 4. Shek Kip Mei Pre-school Centre
    Tel: 2778 1773
  • 5. Tak Tin Early Education and Training Centre
    Tel: 2952 6669
  • 6. Wang Tau Hom Pre-school Centre
    Tel: 2338 3555

Hong Kong Community Speech Therapy Center

Services: Provide basic courses in learning and communication, including speech therapy, music therapy, size and muscle training, home training, etc.​

  • 1. Tsuen Wan
    Tel: 3104 1027
  • 2. Kwun Tong
    Tel: 3568 1027

Hong Kong Island

The Mind Project Child Development Centre (Sai Ying Pun)

Services: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment, speech therapy, art therapy, assessment testing and other coaching and training

  • Tel: 2915 5000

Potential Development Association Ltd (Wan Chai)

Services: 『Children Development and Learning Abilities』 Training, clinical psychological services, music education, workplace training, etc.

  • Tel: 2528 4096

Human Empowerment & Achievement Training, Caritas Family Service (Central)

Services: Child/Adolescent Emotional Behavior Social Learning Counseling (including autism)

  • Tel: 2525 6265

香港耀能協會

Services: 提供兒童及家庭支援服務

  • Tel: 2554 5019

Mind & Heart Educational & Psychological Services (Causeway Bay)

Services: Speech therapy, game therapy, music therapy, psychologist consultation

  • Tel: 2576 7730

Links Child Development Center (Wan Chai)

Services: Occupational therapy, speech therapy, special child tutor training services, comprehensive training services

  • Tel: 2891 6007 /
  • 2. WhatsApp
    Tel: 9669 2654

St James’ Settlement Uncle James Child Development Center (Wan Chai/Central)

Services: Clinical psychological services, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc.

  • Tel: 2596 2500 / 2981 2030

Fu Hong Society (Hin Dip Centre)

Services: Individual treatments: sensory integration, social and communication skills, large muscle development, small muscle development and pre-writing skills, writing skills, concentration, mouth muscle development and application, self-care ability.

  • Tel: 2214 2591

Heep Hong Society EETCs:Wan Tsui Centre

Services: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy

  • 1. West Wing
    Tel: 3568 4145
  • 2. East Wing
    Tel: 2889 3919

Quality Therapy and Education Centre (Causeway Bay)

Services: Provide outpatient services for individual and group training, occupational therapy and speech therapy

  • Tel: 8103 1882 / 8103 6882 / 9624 1505

Rainbow Project (Sai Ying Pun)

Services: Occupational therapy and speech therapy

  • Tel: 2548 7123

Watchdog Early Education Centre (Central)

Services: Speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and music therapy

  • Tel: 2521 7364

Autism Partnership (Quarry Bay)

Services: One-to-one intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment, and a dedicated and personalized course for each student.

  • Tel: 2526 3812 / 2526 5200

Autism Recovery Network (Sheung Wan)

Services: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment, occupational therapy, speech therapy.

  • Tel: 2854 9113

Melody Hearing (Central)

Services: Speech Therapy (Davis Autism Treatment, DavisTM Advanced Treatment, NoitTM​)

  • Tel: 2810 0282

New Territories

St James’ Settlement Uncle James Child Development Center (Tin Shui Wai)

Services: Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy

  • Tel: 3154 9854

Heep Hong Society Early Education and Training Centres

Services: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy

  • 1. Yu Ming Centre
    Tel: 3590 5116
  • 2. Cheung Ching Centre
    Tel: 2497 6262
  • 3. Jockey Club Centre
    Tel: 2670 4899
  • 4. Leung King Centre
    Tel: 2454 0268
  • 5. Tai Wo Hau Centre
    Tel: 2420 2222
  • 6. Jessie and Thomas Tam Centre
    Tel: 2638 8863
  • 7. Kwok Yip Lin Houn Centre
    Tel: 2648 9968
  • 8. Tung Chung Centre
    Tel: 2109 2262

SAHK

Services: Child and Family Support Services

  • 1. Cheung Shan Pre-school Centre
    Tel: 2492 1109
  • 2. District-based Speech Therapy Team
    Tel: 2492 4200
  • 3. Lung Hang Pre-school Centre
    Tel: 2604 2798
  • 4. Shek Wai Kok Pre-school Centre
    Tel: 2427 0741

Human Empowerment & Achievement Training, Caritas Family Service (Tsuen Wan)

Services: Child/Adolescent Emotional Behavior Social Learning Counseling (including Autism)

  • Tel: 3707 2000

Grace Child Development and Therapy Centre (Tsuen Wan)

Services: Speech therapy, child nutrition consultation, music therapy, comprehensive ability training

  • Tel: 3549 8122

Yuk Chi Resource Centre (Tuen Mun)

Services: Occupational therapy, speech therapy, music therapy

  • Tel: 2440 2413

Brighten Development and Therapy Centre (Sha Tin)

Services: Speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological counseling, music therapy, game therapy Early therapy courses and social/focus group therapy

  • Tel: 2786 1611