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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

What is it?

Autism Spectrum Disorder describes a wide range of conditions. The terminology has changed over the years, for example the specific diagnosis of Asperger syndrome has been folded into the more general term ASD.

ASD is characterized communication difficulties, social deficits, repetitive activities and interests, and sometimes cognitive delays. The difficulties can range from mild to serious. However, sometimes people with Autism Spectrum Disorder display outstanding skills with math, art or music.

Symptoms are usually noted in the first year of life; although sometimes there is near normal development until 2 or 3 years and then the child regresses. Common symptoms are not looking at faces, not turning when their name is called, and loss of language.

What causes it?

ASD is a developmental disorder that affects the brain, and while many risk factors have been found the causes are not clear. Genetics, prenatal factors, perinatal factors, brain chemistry and environmental factors can be involved. It is likely that what we call ASD is actually a collection of many disorders with different causes but similar symptoms.

Treatment considerations

The main line of treatment is Behaviour Therapy supported by other therapies as needed.

Developmental considerations

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder are more likely to suffer from a variety of conditions included asthma,
Eczema, skin allergies, food allergies, severe headaches, and chronic diarrhea or inflammation of the colon.

Looking down the road

The prognosis is dependent on the severity of the condition and particularly the intellectual capability. Statistics can be misleading since the diagnosis covers such a wide range of conditions. Early intervention normally does lead to significant improvement, however many adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder need some ongoing support such as supportive housing.


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