Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder. This means that autism affects the development of the brain and affects a child’s ability to comunicate, socially interact and learn like a typical child.


There are no observable physical features of autism and the symptoms of autism are reflected in deficits in social communication and interaction as well as repetitive behaviours.

Autism presents itself in early childhood (before 3 years old) and can be identified as early as 18 months old.

Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means that some individuals are affected by autism on a mild level, some on a moderate level and some on a severe level.


1 in 68 children

4 boys to 1 girl

There is no exact cause of autism yet, but there are links to genetic, environmental and biological factors.


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Social Interactions and Communication

  • Absence of speech or delay in speech development
  • Any loss of language skill at any age
  • Does not respond when name is called
  • May demonstrate unusual speech (e.g. repeating sentences or making strange sounds)
  • Difficulty in having normal back-and-forth communication
  • Does not imitate adult’s movements
  • Limited or inconsistent eye contact
  • Does not show interest in other children
  • Does not demonstrate age-appropriate nonverbal communication
  • Does not share interest with adults and may not look at objects when adults point to them

Restricted and Repetitive Behaviours

  • Repetitive motor movements (e.g. hand-flapping or flicking, spinning, jumping, etc.)
  • Repetitive play (e.g. lining up items, spinning items, hoarding, etc.)
  • Stereotypical speech (e.g. echolalia, rote phrases, etc.)
  • Demonstrates inflexibility in any area (e.g. extreme distress at changes, wanting to wear the same clothes every day)
  • Oversensitive/undersensitive to sensory areas such as pain, sounds, lights, temperature, textures, or movement
  • Fixated interests (demonstrated by a strong attachment or preoccupation with certain objects, interests, or topics)

Does My Child Have Autism?

Learn about the red flags of autism, complete the M-Chat self-assessment and learn about what to expect from a comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation as well as the DSM-5 criteria.

Learn More