What is Autism?

Autism is a general term used to describe a variety of complex developmental disorders. This is known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Signs of autism can start appearing at a very early age. The signs often appear gradually, and can often go unnoticed by parents and caregivers for a while. In most cases autism can be reliably diagnosed by about two years of age. Most children with autism present themselves as typical children until the signs of autism make themselves available.

Facts About Autism

An estimated 1 in 66 are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Males (80%) are more frequently diagnosed than females (20%).

Approximately one-third of people with autism remain non-verbal.

Approximately one-third of people with autism have an accompanying intellectual disability.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Overall unresponsiveness to people (and other stimuli) in the child’s environment
  • Little to no eye contact
  • Avoidance or indifference to playing with other children
  • A lack of or severe delay in speech development
  • The repetitive use of sounds, words and language, including vocal imitation and repetition
  • Inability to initiate or sustain a conversation
  • Engaging in repetitive and sometimes inappropriate routines
  • A strong resistance to change in routine or very negative reactions when routines are changed
  • Preoccupation with parts of objects, topics or activities
  • Repetitive motor behaviours with the body
  • Medical and mental health issues that frequently accompany autism include — gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.