About Autism

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are complex neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by qualitative impairments in three domains: social interaction, communication, and repetitive, stereotyped behaviour. ASDs can have a negative impact on the well-being of affected individuals*.  These symptoms often begin by the age of three years, and persist throughout the life span. 

Autism is often referred to as a “spectrum disorder,” meaning that its symptoms and characteristics can present themselves in a variety of combinations, ranging from mild to quite severe.

The phrase “Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)” refers to a broad definition of autism including the classical form of the disorder as well as Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS), Rett syndrome, Asperger syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.

Autism Facts & Statistics*

  • Autism now affects 1 in 88 children.
  • Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.
  • About 40% of children with autism do not speak.
  • About 25%–30% of children with autism have some words at 12 to 18 months of age and then lose them.
  • Others might speak, but not until later in childhood.
  • Autism greatly varies from person to person (no two people with autism are alike).
  • The rate of autism has steadily grown over the last twenty years.
  • Comorbid conditions often associated with autism include Fragile X, allergies, asthma, epilepsy, bowel disease, gastrointestinal/digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, PANDAS, feeding disorders, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, OCD, sensory integration dysfunction, sleeping disorders, immune disorders, autoimmune disorders, and neuroinflammation.
  • Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet most underfunded.
  • Children with autism do progress – early intervention is key.
  • Autism is treatable, not a hopeless condition.

*    Kamp-Becker I, Schröder J, Remschmidt H, Bachmann CJ: Health-related quality of life in adolescents and young adults with high functioning autism-spectrum disorder. Psychosoc Med 2010., 7: Doc03. Published online 2010 August 31

*   Autism Speaks