Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted or repetitive behaviours.
As of March 2014, 1 in 68 children have been identified as having ASD with it being 4.5 times more common in boys (1 in 42) than in girls (1 in 189).
It is often primary caregivers who first notice behaviours consistent with ASD in their child. For example, when the child does not meet typical developmental milestones.
While signs of autism typically develop gradually, some children will reach developmental milestones at a normal pace and then regress.
ASD is a spectrum disorder, meaning it affects each individual differently. Symptoms vary in intensity and type from person to person.
There are some social, behavioural and sensory characteristics that are consistent with ASD. Knowing what to look for can assist with early, accurate diagnosis and intervention.
If you recognize persistent social communication, or social interaction deficits; repeated behaviours or restricted interests; and/or unusual responses to sensations in your child, it is possible that he or she may have autism.
Early diagnosis can result in early intervention. Scientifically validated forms of treatment, like Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), can improve a child’s chances of achieving the most developmental gains and reaching their full potential.
Despite stereotyped behaviours, some high-functioning individuals with ASD can go undiagnosed until later in life when the demands of school or work reveal skill deficits.
Evidence-based treatments like ABA have also been shown to provide significant improvements in the condition of older children, youth and adults with ASD.