What is Autism?
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests itself in marked problems with social relatedness, communication, interest, and behaviour. It is classified as one of the five types of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (or autism spectrum disorders). The physiological basis for autism is unknown, and the psychiatric criteria for the diagnosis are based on behavioural attributes rather than clinical tests.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is diagnosed by visual methods only, by noting key indicators on basic early childhood development and social interactions. Developmental indicators sometimes present themselves in ways such as reduced ability to communicate or speak, or even a complete lack of this ability. Children with autism may also have reduced motor skills along with poor visual skills and abilities.
Difficulties in social interaction can be seen in a lack of interest in contact with others, or even an aggression toward other children or adults. Some people with autism prefer to be left alone, having no contact with others. This can often be seen at an early age through a lack of eye contact with parents and an unwillingness to be held or touched.
A child with ASD usually does not play with other children. He or she and may have limited obsessive interests that other children do not care to share in. These may be physical items and or information items they like to talk about – if they talk at all. In many cases, social interaction is limited to these interests or conversations.
Other visual indicators of ASD are a lack of interest in playing with other children, excessive activity, extreme negative reaction to physical contact, and increased self-stimulation such as hand or arm waving or fixation on spinning objects. A worst-case example of this would be children sitting in a corner by themselves spinning a bottle or waving their hand in front of their face for hours, not talking or responding to outside simulations by parents.
Who does autism affect?
A recent study has found that 1 in 165 new-born children in Canada have some degree of autism disorder. This is similar to statistics across North America , which shows an alarming rise in incidence of autism. Autism is more prevalent in boys than girls, with a ratio of 4 to 1.
Is there a cure for autism?
There is no cure for autism, but early and continuing intervention therapy can help children with autism develop the visual, verbal and social skills they might otherwise lack.
Screening, Assessment, and Diagnosis for Autism
Ten Common Questions about Autism
Life with ASD-Resources for Family and Caregivers
Life with ASD-Resources for Adults and Youth
ASD Research-Prevalence and Causes