What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism is a complex neurological disorder that usually appears during the first three years of life. People with autism process and respond to information in unique ways. Most children with autism have:

  • difficulty relating to others
  • problems with speech and non-verbal communication
  • limited and repetitive interests and behaviours, such as hand flapping and rocking.

What causes autism?

No one knows. Researchers all over the world are looking for the answer.

We do know that autism is not caused by the way a child is raised. There may be a physical cause which affects the development of parts of the brain. There are many theories as to why this might happen. Theories include genetics, viruses, poor immune system, chromosome abnormalities and pollutants.

How common is it?

  • Autism is four times more frequent in boys than in girls.
  • Characteristics associated with autism tend to run in families.
  • It can occur in people of all ethnic, social, education and income groups.
  • It affects nearly 1 in 165 children.
  • According to Autism Ontario, there are about 70,000 people with autism in Ontario.