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The term ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders’ (more commonly referred to as ‘autism’) is an umbrella description which includes:

  • Autistic Disorder (sometimes called infantile autism or childhood autism)
  • Asperger Syndrome (sometimes known as Asperger's Disorder or Autistic Disorder)
  • Atypical autism
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • High Functioning Autism

ASD affects the way a person communicates and relates to other people and the world around them. People affected by autism typically display major impairments in three areas:

  • Social interaction
  • Communication
  • Behaviour (restricted interests and repetitive behaviours)
ASD - strategies and hints for:

A link to a PDFWorkers and caregivers

A link to a PDFProactive classroom management

A link to a PDFVisual Tool Checklist

Many people with an ASD also have sensory sensitivities, that is, over or under sensitivity to sight, touch, taste, smell, sound, temperature and pain.

As a result of their impairments, people with ASD often experience overwhelming anxiety, frustration and confusion when faced with the demands of everyday life.

The majority of people with an Autistic Disorder also have an intellectual disability, whereas those with Asperger Syndrome are typically of average or above average intelligence, may have relatively intact communication skills, and have specific learning disabilities.

Although Autism Spectrum Disorders are almost always present at birth, they often do not become evident until the age of 2 or 3 (or 5 or 6 in the case of Asperger’s Disorder).

What is Asperger Syndrome?

Asperger Syndrome is a milder variant of Autistic Disorder. Both Asperger Syndrome and Autistic Disorder are in fact subgroups of a larger diagnostic category. This larger category is called either Autistic Spectrum Disorders, mostly in European countries, or Pervasive Developmental Disorders ("PDD"), in the United States. In Asperger Syndrome, affected individuals are characterized by social isolation and eccentric behavior in childhood. There are impairments in two-sided social interaction and non-verbal communication. Though grammatical, their speech is peculiar due to abnormalities of inflection and a repetitive pattern. Clumsiness is prominent both in their articulation and gross motor behavior. They usually have a circumscribed area of interest which usually leaves no space for more age appropriate, common interests. Some examples are cars, trains, French literature, door knobs, hinges, cappucino, meteorology, astronomy or history. The name "Asperger" comes from Hans Asperger, an Austrian physician who first described the syndrome in 1944.

Acronyms and Terms

Glossary of acronyms and terms that you might come across, are included below for your convenience.

  • ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder
  • ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • AS - Asperger Syndrome
  • ASD - Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • HFA - High Functioning Autism
  • NLD - Nonverbal Learning Disorder, also called Nonverbal Learning Disabilities
  • OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • ODD - Oppositional Defiance Disorder
  • OT - Occupational Therapist
  • PDD - Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • PDD-NOS - Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified
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