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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a life-long developmental disorder that affects a child’s development in three main areas: social, communication and behaviour/play.

Diagnosis

  • Who can make the diagnosis?
    Diagnosis can be made by a medical doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist, preferably with expertise in ASD.
    A team assessment including a speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist and social worker is preferred but not necessary.
  • How is the diagnosis made?
    Diagnosis is made based on behavioural observation compared to a list of specific characteristics. The specific diagnosis depends on the number and intensity of these characteristics that the child has.
    There is no blood test, medical test, scan or x-ray that can diagnosis autism spectrum disorder.
  • What causes ASD?
    The exact cause is still not known but most experts believe it is caused by multiple, interacting genes leading to a genetic susceptibility triggered by an unknown environmental event.
  • Is there a cure for ASD?
    There is no cure for ASD. However, early intervention that addresses communication and social skills training means that many individuals with ASD can learn the skills necessary to lead full and productive lives.

Characteristics

  • The word spectrum means that any child’s problems may vary from mild to severe.
  • A child with ASD may be late in or may never acquire speech. However, they can learn to communicate.
  • A child with ASD may “echo” or repeat words or phrases. This may be an attempt to communicate.
  • Children with ASD often demonstrate a need for sameness and can be resistant to changes in routine.
  • Children with ASD often experience sensory processing difficulties. They may be over-reactive (hyper-sensitive) or under-reactive (hypo-sensitive) to sights, sounds, smell, touch, taste, movement or gravity.

Source:
Geneva Centre for Autism
112 Merton Street, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2Z8
Tel: (416) 322-7877 – Toll Free: 1-866-Geneva-9 – Fax: (416) 322-5894
www.autism.net


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