What is Autism? What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), commonly referred to as Autism, is a complex developmental brain disorder caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences. ASD is characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioural challenges, and repetitive behaviours and is considered to be a lifespan disorder. An estimated 1 in 68 diagnosed children is on the autism spectrum. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.
ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role. Learn more …