Top of the page
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder. It affects a person's behaviour. And it makes communication and social interactions hard.
Behaviour and symptoms can range from mild to severe. The type of symptoms your child has and how severe they are varies. For example, your child might prefer to play alone and avoid eye contact. Or your child may be late to develop social or verbal skills.
Children with ASD may do things because of a need for sameness or routines. For example, your child may rock their body. Or you may notice that your child gets attached to objects or repeats certain rituals and routines.
Some children with ASD need help in most parts of their lives. Others may learn social and verbal skills and lead independent lives as adults. They may be able to do things like go to university and have a job. Finding and treating ASD early has helped many children who have ASD to lead full lives.
If your child has any of the following conditions, this can also affect their prognosis:
ASD now includes conditions that used to be diagnosed separately. These include:
You or your doctor might use any of these terms to describe the condition.
If you are worried about ASD, contact your family doctor. They may refer you to a pediatrician (a doctor who specializes in children’s health) or to a local autism spectrum disorder diagnostic centre. They may also arrange for your child to have a speech language pathology assessment or a hearing assessment.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Support There is help and support for you and your family. Follow these links to find out more:
Financial assistance for families raising a child with special needs.
The child disability benefit (CDB) is a tax-free benefit for families who care for a child under age 18 who’s eligible for the disability tax credit.
A registered disability savings plan (RDSP) helps parents and others save money to help with future costs.
Financial assistance to help cover the cost of medical equipment or supplies needed for day-to-day living.
For more information about caring for your child with ASD, please visit www.childdevelopmentresearch.ca/parent-community-resources and scroll down to the Autism Spectrum Disorder section (blue section).
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
If your child talks about suicide, self-harm, or feeling hopeless, get help right away. Call your provincial suicide hotline or Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566, or go to www.crisisservicescanada.ca for more information.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if your child has any problems.
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter R982 in the search box to learn more about "Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Children: Care Instructions".
Adaptation Date: 8/2/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 2006-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.