What causes ASD?
The cause is unknown at present but it is generally accepted that it is caused by variations in brain structure or function. There is evidence to suggest that genetics plays an important role in the cause of ASD; it is likely to be multiple genes. Genes may create a “susceptibility” to developing ASD but researchers have not yet identified a single "trigger" that causes ASD to develop. There is no medical or genetic screening currently available.
How common is ASD?
ASD affects 1 in 100 individuals (Fernell and Gillberg, 2010) in Australia and more males than females. The male to female ratio is approximately 4:1 (Freitag, 2007; Abrahams and Geschwind, 2008)
Do all individuals with ASD have intellectual disability?
Some individuals with ASD have an intellectual disability whilst some have average or above average intelligence. Often individuals with ASD show an uneven pattern of skills having areas of particular strength and other areas where support may be required.
How do individuals with ASD communicate?
Individuals with ASD vary greatly in their communication skills. Some individuals are highly articulate and effective communicators, often well above their chronological age. Some individuals may never develop language. Others may develop simple language or some may not develop speech but may communicate with devices, signing, pictures or writing. Those who do communicate verbally may still have difficulties with the subtleties of language such as tone of voice, knowing when to stop talking and adapting their language to suit their audience.
How does ASD affect a person during their life?
ASD is a lifelong condition. Most individuals will require varying degrees of support throughout their lives. The supports are unique to the needs and age of the individual. Such supports work on the areas that can best support the person to fulfil and maximise their potential.
Using evidence based interventions and supports are important to ensure the success of the programs as these interventions have been researched and have shown positive outcomes. Fact sheet: Autism and Evidence Based Practice explains the evidence based approach.