What is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental difference that impacts all aspects of a person’s life. It is characterized by differences in social communication and interaction and by restrictive and repetitive behaviours, actions, or interests. Every autistic person has unique strengths and support needs which can fluctuate throughout a person’s life.
Common traits include:
- Differences in communication and speech
- Difficulty using or understanding gestures, such as pointing
- Difficulty with abstract concepts and pronouns
- Repetitive language (echolalia)
- Difficulty initiating or sustaining conversations
- Difficulty developing and sustaining relationships with peers
- Difficulty with question-based communication
- Social cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and gestures can be missed, perceived differently, or used in non-neurotypical ways
- Intense focus and understanding of special interests
- Self-stimulating for regulation, such as rocking, hand flapping, chewing, unique vocalizations, or other repetitive movements. This can sometimes be self-injurious
- Preferences for set routines, familiar surroundings, or predictability
- Hypersensitivity to smell, touch, taste, sound, or sight
- Fascination with visual stimulation from lights, movement, or taking things apart to learn how they work
Autism is a Spectrum
The autism spectrum is not a straight line from ‘less autistic’ to ‘more autistic.’ Instead, the term ‘spectrum’ refers to how an autistic person functions in each of these areas:
- Executive function
- Sensory processing
- Repetitive behaviours
- Motor skills
- Perseverative thinking
- Social awareness
- Verbal & nonverbal communication
- Information processing
Each autistic person’s experience of autism is different. One autistic person may have high support needs for their motor skills and executive function, but none for communication. Another may excel at motor function but need some help with social awareness.
There are many misconceptions about autism that are harmful and stigmatizing to autistic people. Contrary to common myths, autism is:
- Not curable or in need of a cure
- Not a disease
- Not caused by vaccines
- Not caused by diet
- Not caused by poor parenting
- Not only present in children
- Not only present in males
To learn more, explore the links and videos below.
Autism and Diversity
Autism and Diversity We discuss how diverse autism is. This video is 1 of 6 in the animated video series produced from the Mental Health Literacy Guide for Autism by the AM-HeLP Group. Videos were produced by: Spectrum Productions (https://www.youtube.com/c/Productions...) Voiceovers by: Riley Goldsmith (https://www.youtube.com/c/RileyLastna...) and members of the AM-HeLP Group Scripts Written by: Paula Tablon Modica, Dr. Yona Lunsky, and Dr. Jonathan Weiss
Autism Ontario - See the Potential with Michael McCreary
This video, which features the incredible Michael McCreary, is a wonderful introduction to autism spectrum disorder. The video was created to support customer service professionals when they provide services or support to people on the autism spectrum; however the positive response from the general public has been overwhelming. This video is so accessible and entertaining, it offers something for everyone. Starring Michael McCreary, Julien Basque, Geoff Cameron and Chris Cameron. Written and directed by Susan McCreary.
Understanding Supports for Autistic Mental Health
To learn more about Autism Mental Health Literacy Project (AM-HeLP) and to read the Mental Health Literacy Guide for Autism visit: https://www.yorku.ca/health/lab/ddmh/... ----- Understanding Supports for Autistic Mental Health We discuss helpful supports for Autistic people and the importance of Autistic acceptance This video is 1 of 6 in the animated video series produced from the Mental Health Literacy Guide for Autism by the AM-HeLP Group. Videos were produced by: Spectrum Productions (https://www.youtube.com/c/Productions...) Voiceovers by: Riley Goldsmith (https://www.youtube.com/c/RileyLastna...) and members of the AM-HeLP Group Scripts Written by: Paula Tablon Modica, Dr. Yona Lunsky, and Dr. Jonathan Weiss
Autism Assessment in BC
Autism Assessment in BC In BC, there are publicly funded autism assessments available. They are done through the BC Autism Assessment Network, but a referral […]
Let’s Celebrate the Pros of Being Autistic
It can be easy to forget the upsides of being autistic when confronted with so much media that focuses on the negatives. But the pros, not just the cons, deserve to be recognized and celebrated not just by autistic people, but also by allies and professionals.
Why does the language we use to talk about autism matter?
In 1997, when I was four years old, doctors at Sunny Hill Hospital gave me the diagnosis “high-functioning autism, as well as having traits of […]