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Special Needs

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disorder characterized by impairments in social communication and the presence of repetitive and stereotyped behaviours. ASD is often associated with other developmental, health and behavioural challenges such as language impairment, uneven cognitive and adaptive skills, seizures, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

See these other domains and areas of interest for more information:

  • Attention difficulty and/or hyperactive behaviour

  • Behaviour

  • Self-Regulation

  • Sensory

  • Social/emotional

  • Speech and language

The severity of symptoms for ASD can vary widely; however, all individuals with an ASD diagnosis have impairments in the ability to function in social settings and often in many other areas in daily life.

If the child presents any of the following behaviours, consider this a red flag:

Social Concerns

 Does not smile in response to another person
 Poor/decreased eye contact with people,
 although may look intently at objects
 Lack of “joint engagement” e.g. does not play peek-a-boo games
 Lack of imitation e.g. does not wave bye-bye
 Limited showing, giving, sharing and directing of others’ attention
 Delayed imaginative play or lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play
 Prefers to play alone i.e. decreased interest in other children
 Poor interactive play
 Regression i.e. any loss of social skills at any age
 Prefers to do things for them self rather than ask for help
 Awkward or absent greeting of others

Communication Concerns

 Delayed or atypical language
 Unusual language e.g. repeating phrases from movies, echoing other people, repetitive use of phrases, odd intonation (echolalia)
 Inconsistent response or lack of response to their name or instructions i.e. may respond to sounds but not language
 Decreased ability to compensate for delayed speech by gesturing/pointing
 Poor comprehension of language (words and gestures)
 Regression i.e. any loss of language skills at any age (regression), particularly between 15 and 24 months
 Inability to carry on a conversation

Behavioural Concerns

 Repetitive hand and/or body movements e.g. finger wiggling, hand and arm flapping, tensing of fingers, complex body movements, spinning, jumping
 Severe repeated tantrums due to interruption of routine, interruption of repetitive behaviour or unknown reasons
 Unusual sensory interests e.g. visually squinting or looking at things out of the corner of the eye, smelling, licking, mouthing objects, hypersensitive hearing
 Narrow range of interests in which they engage repetitively
 Insistent on maintaining sameness in routine, activities, clothing, etc.
 Unusual preoccupation with objects e.g. light switches, fans, spinning objects, vertical blinds, wheels, balls
 Unusual response to pain i.e. high or low tolerance



Services and Information related to Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Having more general concerns about a child's development?

Having difficulty coping? Need some advice?

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