Note: The term “Autism Spectrum Disorder” is in use since 2013, replacing the previously used designation “Pervasive Developmental Disorder” (PDD). The PDD category included five diagnoses: Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Rett’s Syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
AUTISM / AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD)
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder found in approximately 1% of the general population.
Autism traits vary significantly from person to person in number, intensity and type. For example, one autistic person may be reserved and non-speaking, while another will share their knowledge with enthusiasm and a large vocabulary. An autistic youth may not grasp the idea of taking turns, while another may be a chess master. It’s often said that there are as many definitions of autism as there are autistic individuals.
Here is a sample of traits that can be observed in autistic individuals:
They may communicate and relate with others in unusual ways. For example:
- Little to no eye contact
- Difficulty recognizing and understanding emotions, or the meanings of facial expressions and gestures
- Challenges with understanding abstract language, implied meanings and humour
- Socially awkward
They may present behaviours or interests that seem unusual for their age or the situation. For example:
- Reacting to routine changes or unexpected events
- Anxiety and intense reactions
- Highly specific, and sometimes restrictive, interests
- Unconventional use of objects and toys
They have unique ways of learning and understanding the world.
- Paying attention to details instead of the wider perspective
- Difficulty managing multiple tasks
- Challenges with guessing what other people may think or feel
Sensory difficulties are common.
- High sensitivity to sounds, smells, sudden movements or touch
- Seeking sensory stimulation (rocking, spinning objects, etc.)
Along with these traits, autistic people also possess strengths and talents.
Autism is not an illness, but rather a permanent state, a condition that remains throughout the life of the person. Autistic people are present in all age groups, populations and social classes. Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder. Its origins are most likely genetic, and its causes are still not well known.
To learn more, please visit the following sites:
Autisme Canada | autismcanada.org