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Autism Spectrum — What Does That Mean?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the term used to refer to a broad range of developmental and behavioural issues.

CHILDREN WITH ASD WILL OFTEN HAVE PROBLEMS IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS:

  • Social skills and social interest. This can include playing with others and understanding appropriate and inappropriate interactions. They may not show much interest in interacting with parents or their family, preferring to focus on toys or a particular game. Some children will become quite upset at any perceived intrusion or interruption.
  • Verbal and non-verbal communication. They may have trouble developing language or understanding and using non-verbal skills such as eye contact, facial expressions and pointing.
  • Restricted/Repetitive behaviour and interests. They may focus on specific aspects of their toys, such as only playing with the wheels or lining toys up in a specific order. Parents may find it difficult to introduce anything new or to interest them in age-appropriate games and toys. The child may have odd movements, such as hand-flapping or toe-walking, to express excitement.

These symptoms can range wildly between individuals. No two children with autism are alike. The challenges will appear in early childhood and continue throughout the child’s life. With therapy, many core symptoms and challenges can be improved. Early intervention and treatment is an important factor in long term success.  (From Emerging Minds)

Autism is a complex neurological disorder.  Today with more awareness and better identification tools, autism can be reliabily diagnosed by 15 months of age.  

Autism impacts the typical development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.  Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.  They find it hard to communicate with others and relate to the outside world.  In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behaviour may be present.  Persons with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects and resistance to changes in routines.  Individuals may also experience sensitivities in sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. 
(From Autism Ontario)

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