Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); generally referred to as ‘autism’, is a group of complex disorders affecting the development of the brain. These lifelong disorders occur in varying degrees and are characterized by impairments to social interaction, cognitive function and communication abilities as well as restricted or repetitive behaviours. The signs and symptoms of ASD are generally noticed in the first two years of a child's life. Based on current diagnostic criteria it is estimated that approximately 1 in 68 children are identified with autism or some form of ASD (1).
ASD affects all aspects of an individual’s life and functioning. There are a variety of interventions available to help a person living with ASD, including behavioral therapies, speech and communication therapy, social and coping strategies, integration programs, and medication. There is no “one size fits all” approach to intervention and support for ASD. Every individual is very unique and has their own set of challenges. Increasing autism awareness is essential in helping to further research into effective methods for earlier diagnosis and more effective early intervention strategies.
(1)U.S. Centre for Disease Control’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.