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What is Autism?

Please be advised that the following information is a general description about the Autism Spectrum and is not meant to diagnose or treat. It should not take the place of personal consultation, as appropriate, from a qualified healthcare professional.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or Autism, is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts brain development and results in challenges with social skills, obtaining repetitive or recurring behaviors, and communication. Due to the fact that it is a spectrum disorder, each individual diagnosed with Autism has their own challenges and strengths. The differences range from individuals who are entirely independent, with minimal support, to those who require consistent support and are non-verbal. 

It is important to keep in mind that there is not one "type" of Autism as each individual is unique based on their symptoms, behaviours, and strengths. Moreover, Autism does not have a "look", as you are unable to determine if an individual has Autism until they show signs.


The best way for parents and older siblings to know if a child has Autism is by recognizing the early signs.  

The Early Signs

The early signs of Autism can be determined within the first 12-24 months, and sometimes even earlier. Some symptoms include: 

  • limited low eye-contact

  • lacks non-verbal communication (such as social smiles, expressions towards people, and vocal sounds)

  • difficulty transitioning (often leads to tantrums)

  • limited to no use of gestures to communicate (such as "point and look") 

  • no response their name (may also appear deaf to sounds and communication directed at them) 

  • no form of verbal communication

  • often begins to lose any developed speech or social skills (retracts slowly)

  • fails to bond with others and understand feelings

  • may get upset with change in routines

  • begins forming repetitive behaviours

Please note that each symptom varies with each individual with Autism and some may only carry a few of these symptoms. Parents and siblings should seek professional assistance immediately if they believe a child in the home has Autism, as determining this at an early stage may improve the future outcome. 

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