Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability that is typically evident early in development, often by 12 to 18 months of age.
ASD develops from different combinations of genetic and environmental factors. The word “Spectrum” refers to the wide variety of attributes, strengths and challenges experienced by each person with autism. Individuals with autism often think, interact and perceive the world differently, and each person with autism is unique. Some have other conditions such as intellectual or learning disabilities, gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, anxiety, Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD or ADHD) or phobias.
The prevalence of autism is growing. Statistics published in the 2019 Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth (CHSCY) indicate that 1 in 50 Canadian children and youth are affected by autism.
The challenges children with autism experience are often in the areas of speech and communication, learning, social interactions and behaviour. Children with ASD may have difficulty responding appropriately in different environments, display repetitive and unusual behaviours and have difficulty coping with changes in routines. While many children are verbal, some cannot speak and learn to communicate with picture symbols or technology such as iPads.
Children with autism need compassion and acceptance, structured programming and personalized, evidence-based therapies to learn and develop to their potentials. With these supports, they can gain many new skills and abilities and thrive as contributing members of their families, schools and communities.
At Giant Steps, we are committed to enabling kids with autism to do just that.