Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and autism are general terms used to describe a lifelong, neuro-developmental disorder. People with autism will experience challenges in communication and social interaction as well as display repetitive/restrictive behaviours. Autism affects the way a person perceives their environment, and a range of sensory experiences can be difficult for some. There are varying degrees of autism and each individual with autism is unique.
About 1 in 68 children are identified with autism according to estimates from the U.S. Centre for Disease Control’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Diagnostic criteria have been more clearly defined and broadened in recent years, and this can account for some increase in diagnosis.
Autism affects individuals of all races, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. The cause of autism remains unknown; however, both biological and environmental factors are said to contribute to its development. Research into causation and into therapies is ongoing, and much of this work is being done in Canada.
There are a variety of interventions available to help a person living with autism, including behavioral therapies, speech therapy, communication strategies, medication, social strategies and avenues for coping with sensory issues. There is no miracle cure and no “one size fits all” approach to autism. There are also many youth and adults with autism who feel they do not need to be “cured” as they have many unique talents and abilities that can benefit others and these talents should be celebrated.