Autism Spectrum Disorder:

A different way of seeing the world

The current understanding of Autism has advanced quite rapidly in the last 20 years. Twin sisters, Catherine and Eliza Toweel, in the field of special needs education, share some of the facts about Autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a social and communication disorder. It is characterized by:

  • Deficits in social communication and social interaction.
  • Restricted repetitive behaviours, interests, and activities.

Autism is found in all cultures. Rates are 4 to 5 times higher in males than in females. Autistic Disorder affects approximately 1 in 100 children. Clinicians diagnose autism by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V). Autism is a differential diagnosis based on the categories of:

  • Social interaction
  • Communication and
  • Imagination

These are diagnosed through the lack of a child reaching key developmental milestones, thus diagnoses are usually made from the age of 2, but are becoming increasingly younger. By definition, the onset of symptoms must occur before the age of 3. Some parents report noting symptoms, such as an absence of eye contact, from birth.



These are behaviours that typical children engage in, but children who may have a social communication disorder or ASD aren’t engaging in these enough.

~ Language

A child may not be speaking at all or he or she might speak but speech may not appear to be directed at anyone.

~ Play Skills

Some children don’t engage in any pretend play such as doll play or playing with a doctor’s kit. Others engage in some pretend play but it’s limited in that the child always does the same thing when he or she pretends.

~ Social Skills

A child may not attend to or interact with peers.

~ Perspective Talking

In our children who are highly verbal, we often see deficits in empathy or in understanding that different people might like and believe different things.

~ Executive Function

These are skills like planning, keeping yourself on a task until it is finished, and being able to transition flexibly from one activity to the next.

~ Motor Skills

These include gross motor skills such as playground skills as well as fine motor skills like colouring, drawing, writing, and cutting….

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