Changing the lives of children with autism

What is autism ?

Autism is a common developmental disorder that emerges in early childhood. Usually parents begin to see signs of autism before their children are three.

Autism affects the brain’s development, and often results in impaired communication, learning difficulties and repetitive behaviour. On the other hand, autistic children may demonstrate above-average intelligence in specialized areas like music or non-verbal reasoning.

An estimated 1 in 150 Canadian children will be diagnosed with some form of autism. Autism varies in severity from one individual to the next. Some children will be affected mildly, and others, more seriously. This had led researchers to coin the term Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.

Breaking the silence

Despite their unique abilities and gifts, autistic children often live in a world of isolation. They have trouble understanding their peers and family members. As a result, autistic children may play independently or not seem to care if a friend or relative exits the room. The goal of autism therapies is consequently to break through to these individuals and help them communicate with loved ones.

Autism treatment options

There are many autism treatments, but it is crucial to start them early. Studies reveal more favourable outcomes with early intervention. Autism treatments almost always involve specialized education aimed at reinforcing positive behaviour; the most accepted of these is called Applied Behavioural Analysis or ABA. ABA is scientifically proven to benefit children by reinforcing positive actions, such as verbal speech. Children may also benefit from keyboards or letter boards to express themselves as they get older.

Treatment cannot forget the role of community. With the large number of autistic children in B.C., people need to be educated on the condition and how to approach children with autism. Canada needs to create a widespread plan to address problems related to autism and effective funding models. We’re making great leeway but are not where we should be – especially in comparison to other provinces!

Contact us for more information on autism research, autism information or autism in Canada.

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