What is Autism?

Autism is a neurological disorder that affects how the brain develops and functions. The symptoms of autism are visible at an age as early as eighteen months. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder; it persists throughout the individual’s lifetime.

Children with autism may have difficulties in key areas:

  • Social Interaction and Communication ( Speaking  with family, playing with peers)
  • Demonstrating repetitive behaviours ( Hand flapping, rocking back and forth)
  • Dysfunctional Attachment to routines and objects
  • Heightened sensitivities to touch, noise, sight, smell, and taste 

Currently, the term Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are used interchangeably. This might be a point of confusion for many. To elaborate, ASD is a broad term used to describe related developmental disorders that share similar characteristics. It is referred to as a spectrum disorder because the severity of the symptoms and challenges faced can vary from person to person.

There are five disorders that are considered to be Autism Spectrum Disorders:

  • Autism
  • PDD- NOS ( Pervasive Developmental Disorder)
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder

Facing the Numbers

  • Every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed
  • Autism affects four times as many boys than girls
  • An estimated 50,000 children and 150,000 adults in Canada have autism

South Asian Statistics*:

  • In Sri Lanka there are a reported 39,000 Autistic children
    • with no continuing data collection or improvements in screening tools, this figure is most likely an underestimate
  • In India – 1:500
    • Autism Resource Centre in Tamil Nadu reports ~ 1 in 150 children affected
  • Bangladesh: 282,680
  • India: 2,130,141
  • Pakistan: 318,392
  • Relative to the entire population of persons with autism, Asians and Hispanics increased the most in the 15-year interval between 1987 and 2002 – doubled**

*Reference: http://www.autism-india.org/afa_autisminindia.html
**Reference:  http://www.cdss.ca.gov/research/res/pdf/GENtrends/CA_USpop/C A_USpop2000.pdf