What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), hereafter referred to as Autism (which includes Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified [PDD-NOS]), is a complex, lifelong developmental condition that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation. The Autism experience is different for everyone. It is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is often referred to as a “spectrum condition” that affects people differently and to varying degrees.
While there is currently no known single cause of Autism, early diagnosis helps a person receive resources that can support the choices and opportunities needed to live fully.
When family members or support providers become concerned that a child is not following a typical developmental course, they turn to experts, including psychologists, educators and medical professionals, for a diagnosis.
At first glance, some people with Autism may appear to have an intellectual disability, sensory processing issues, or problems with hearing or vision, and the diagnosis of Autism may become more challenging.
These conditions can co-occur with Autism and it can be confusing to families when they receive multiple diagnoses. However, it is important to identify Autism, as an accurate and early Autism diagnosis can provide the basis for appropriate educational and home-based support.