About Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) now affects 1 in every 68 children.

Right now, there are an estimated 18,000 individuals with ASD (children and adults) living in the Edmonton area. Autism doesn't discriminate - it occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

What is "autism"?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disorder that impacts a person's:

  • communication (both verbal and non-verbal)
  • social interaction (ability to form or understand relationships)
  • perception, behavior and interests (sensory or emotional perception, repetitive or unusual behaviors, restricted or obsessive interests)

Autism is called a "spectrum" disorder because of the varying degree of severity and impact on a person's ability to function, and wide range of symptoms that may be present.

A person might have cognitive impairment or an intellectual disability- however, it is important to note that nearly half of all children identified with ASD are of average or above-average intelligence.

Sensory issues are extremely common. People with ASD may be hyper- or hypo-sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, touch and/or taste. For example: loud noises, bright lights, scratchy clothes or certain textures can be excruciatingly uncomfortable. Or a person with autism might have an unusually high tolerance for pain (which can be extremely dangerous).

There is not always discomfort- sometimes the information is simply processed differently. For example, researchers have found higher rates of synaesthesia among those with ASD.

All of this affects how people with ASD learn, interact and behave in both positive and negative ways. For example:

  • specialized interests can lead to outstanding achievements
  • a different way of seeing the world can lead to highly original ideas
  • challenges to learning through conventional methods can lead to unique approaches to problem-solving

Fortunately, it is evident that through early intervention, focused engagement, and the continued practicing of skills - people with autism can increase their ability to communicate and interact with their community and surroundings.

To learn more about autism spectrum disorder and its features, please visit the Autism Edmonton website at: