Autism Spectrum Disorder


Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that results in impairments in social communication and interaction, as well as restrictive interests and behaviours.  While some children with Autism could be highly gifted and independent in their daily living, others could be non-verbal and highly dependent on others for their functioning. Most children are diagnosed around the age of 2 or 3, though some children are diagnosed as early as 18 months. 

Symptoms of Autism

Signs and symptoms of Autism include: 

Social skills deficits: 

  • Does not respond to name 
  • Avoids or fails to maintain eye contact 
  • Does not show interest in interacting or playing with others
  • Unable to understand turn-taking
  • Unable to make friends and sustain friendships 
  • Limited understanding of non-verbal communication shown by others 

Language and communication deficits:

  • Delayed language and speech abilities 
  • Repeats words and phrases over and over again 
  • Lack of facial expressions and non-verbal communication
  • Talks in a sing-song or flat voice
  • Unable to engage in pretend play
  • Does not understand jokes or sarcasm 

Unusual behaviours: 

  • Engages in repetitive motions such as spinning self in circle or flapping hands
  • Gets upset quickly with small changes 
  • Lines up toys or objects in the same manner and gets upset when order is changed
  • Plays with certain parts of objects, such as wheels or spinning parts
  • Has preoccupied and obsessive interests

There are many different forms of therapy available to manage the condition. One common approach is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is a form of Behavioral Therapy. ABA involves changing behaviour through understanding what occurs before and prior to the behaviour, encouraging desired behaviours and discouraging unwanted behaviours to build upon a variety of skills.