Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term used to describe three disorders:
• Autistic Disorder (also known as autism)
• Asperger’s Disorder (also known as Asperger's syndrome)
• Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS, also known as atypical autism)
Research suggests that ASD affects at least 1 in 160 children, with Autistic Disorder being the most common. ASD is more commonly diagnosed in boys than in girls — at a rate of four to one. About 75 percent of children with Autistic Disorder have below normal intelligence. However, around 10 percent demonstrate high intelligence in particular area (e.g. maths, art, music, or computer studies). ASD affects each child differently, but all children can be helped through appropriate intervention.
Children with ASD demonstrate difficulties across three areas of functioning:
1. interacting with others
2. communicating with others
3. interests and behaviours
These children can have a very narrow, or unusual, set of interests; they exhibit unusual behaviour; and they experience difficulty coping with change. As children with ASD grow older, the signs may change a little but the major affected areas remain the same. The daily experiences of children with ASD can vary enormously. Some require high levels of support, lifelong care, and supervision. With help, others can learn to function independently.
The Raising Children Network has an extensive on-line listing of early warning signs of ASD. Please click here for more information (opens a new browser window).