Did you know ...

  • 1 in 68 children are currently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
  • The prevalence of ASD has increased over 100% in the last 10 years.
  • Autism is now the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in Canada.
  • ASD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences.
  • Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups
  • Autism is a lifelong disorder.
  • Early intervention can make a lifetime of difference.
  • Mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression are common in individuals with ASD.
  • The unemployment rate for individuals with ASD is over 80%.
  • With the right supports, all individuals with ASD can thrive.
  • No two people with autism are the same, not even identical twins.  If you’ve met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism

What is Autism?

Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder (sometimes referred to as “classic autism”), Rett syndrome, childhood dis-integrative 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 has its roots in early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 12 and 18 months of age. Some infants and toddlers begin develop normally until the second year of life, when they lose skills and develop autism – a pattern called “regression.” 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