Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex condition that impacts brain development and affects a person’s social relationships, communication, interests and behaviour.

ASD presents itself in a wide variety of combinations, and individuals can exhibit many different combinations of the behaviours in any degree of severity. There is no standard type or typical person with ASD and the needs, skills and abilities of each person are affected differently.

In general, a person with ASD typically has difficulty with communication and social interactions. This can include:

  • being nonverbal, to responding inappropriately in conversations
  • an inability to understand non-verbal cues
  • having difficulty building age appropriate friendships

Other behaviours can include being overly dependent on routines, highly sensitive to changes in environment, or attachments to objects.

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Early Indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorder

A parent’s concerns about their child’s development should always be taken seriously.

Some possible signs of ASD include:

  • Impaired social interaction
  • Lack of eye contact
  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or later
  • Lack of sharing interest or enjoyment
  • Lack of response to name
  • Impaired communication
  • No sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  • Lack of gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • Lack of coordination of non-verbal communication
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • Unusual voice (little variation in pitch, odd intonation, irregular rhythm)
  • Repetitive behaviours & restricted interests
  • Repetitive movements with objects
  • Repetitive movements or posturing of body, arms, hands or fingers

Your child does not need to demonstrate all of the indicated behaviours to be referred for an assessment. These characteristics may also indicate other conditions.

Check with your family doctor about your child’s development. They can refer you for appropriate assessment and diagnosis.

What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The causes of autism are still largely unknown.

It is not caused by parents or how a child is raised, and there is likely no single cause. Research is underway to explore possible causes including genetic and environmental factors.

Is There A Cure?

There is no cure for ASD. There are, however, highly effective treatment and intervention methods to help children and their families address the characteristics of this disorder. Early interventions, based on best practices , help children with ASD develop skills, learn to communicate effectively, share in family life and enjoy success at school.