About Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex condition associated with various neurobiological disorders that have a lifelong impact on the development of a person’s skills and abilities. This includes difficulty in verbal and non-verbal communication and behaviour as well as social interaction including leisure or play activities. Autism affects a person’s ability to communicate with others, socialize and relate to the outside world. This developmental disability typically appears during the first three years of life and is a result of a neurological disorder, which affects brain function. Many individuals with autism also have an anxiety or mood disorder. Another common characteristic is an unusual attachment to objects or routines. There is still a lot that is not known about autism and opinions vary on the best way to treat it, but everyone agrees that early intervention is important.

Most parents are in the best position to spot the earliest warning signs. These involve the absence of normal behaviours rather than the presence of abnormal ones. Some of the possible signs in infants and toddlers include:

  • Not making eye contact (i.e., when being fed)
  • Not smiling back when smiled at, pointing, waving goodbye or other common gestures used to communicate
  • Not responding to their name or a familiar voice
  • Not following objects visually
  • Not making noise to get attention
  • Not cuddling or wanting to be cuddled
  • Not mimicking your actions or expressions
  • Not reaching out to be held or picked up
  • Not asking for help or making other basic requests
  • Not playing or sharing with others

Typical Milestones

According to the Mayo Clinic, these age-related cues may prompt further investigation:

  • 6 months: an absence of big smiles/joyful expressions
  • 9 months: not mimicking sounds, smiles or other facial expressions
  • 12 months: not responding to their name or gesturing (i.e., pointing or waving)
  • 16 months: no single spoken words
  • 24 months: no two-word phrases
  • Any age thereafter: loss of a previously acquired language or social skill

Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services
69 Flatt Road
Burlington, ON L7P 0T3

Halton: (905) 689-4727
Hamilton: (905) 689-4727
Brant: (519) 752-5308
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