What Is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder, or autism, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts brain development causing most individuals to experience communication problems, difficulty with social interactions and a tendency to repeat specific patterns of behaviour. There is also a markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests.
It is typically accompanied by co-occurring medical conditions such as epilepsy, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal abnormalities, immune dysregulation and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
The term “spectrum” refers to a continuum of severity or developmental impairment. Children and adults with ASDs usually have particular characteristics in common, but the conditions cover a wide spectrum, with individual differences in:
- Number and particular kinds of symptoms
- Severity: mild to severe
- Age of onset
- Levels of functioning
- Challenges with social interactions
According to the latest estimates (March 2014) from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)” This represents a 30% increase in the prevalence rate previously reported by the CDC.
Individuals on the autism spectrum tend to have varying degrees and combinations of symptoms and therefore treatment must be specific to the individual. It is also important to keep in mind that individuals with autism vary widely in their needs, skills and abilities.