Episode 16 – Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are developmental disorders that affect a child’s behaviour and ability to communicate. Symptoms appear very early in life, most often in the first two years of a child. Children exhibiting signs of the disorder may find it difficult to interact with other people and may perform repetitive behaviours that, in turn, restricts the child’s ability to function in school and other areas of life. Because it is a very serious problem with very serious ramifications, it bothers a growing number of concerned parents.

In this episode of Chatabout Children™, we invited Dr. Virginia Oliveira to give us an overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders. She also gives us some very helpful advice on how best to manage the condition, which parents with children diagnosed with the disorder or those who are concerned that their children might have it will find useful. Dr. Oliveira is a consultant pediatrician with expertise in various pediatric fields including sleep, child behaviours, child development, and autism spectrum disorder. She worked for ten years at Sydney’s two predominant children hospitals and is the clinical director of Southern Healthcare Specialists

Key Learnings

  • An introduction on Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • The early symptoms and signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • How common Autism Spectrum Disorders are
  • The different factors that may contribute to the occurrence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in children
  • Why not knowing the real cause of Autism Spectrum Disorders might actually be beneficial to parents
  • How Dr. Oliveira talks to parents about prognosis
  • Websites and resources about Autism Spectrum Disorders that Dr. Oliveira suggest that parents check out to find support and more information
  • How parents should deal with the siblings of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Dr. Oliviera’s take-home message to parents concerned about an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis

  • Find a pediatrician or GP to coordinate your child’s care
  • Be gentle to yourselves: take holidays and enjoy time as an individual and as a family


“Autism Spectrum is called a spectrum because, as I tell the parents, every individual with Autism Spectrum is one individual. So, there is a range of symptoms that vary in severity, and often, Autism Spectrum can come with associated developmental difficulties.”

“I feel very fortunate to work with a lot of people, a lot of children, in the spectrum. And I always say to the parents that children have skills and strengths that no neurotypical person can ever develop. The way they see the world is special and different and beautiful.”


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Any information and links presented within the Chatabout Children™ with Sonia Bestulic podcast are aimed to provide general information and advice only.
Information is to be used at the discretion of the consumer/ listener. The information presented does not replace or substitute the expert advice received from a direct consultation with the relevant qualified professional.


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