What are Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioural challenges. Children and adults with ASD usually have particular characteristics in common, and at the same time, everyone is unique in terms of their strengths and difficulties. People vary in terms of the number and kinds of symptoms they show, the severity of the difficulties they experience, and the age when challenges occur. That is why ASD are considered "spectrum disorders"; they affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe.

Although rates vary in different studies, most estimate that between 40 per cent and 70 per cent of people with ASD have at least one co-occurring mental health problem. Common problems include anxiety, depression, and anger. Many struggle with more than one problem. Mental health problems have considerable impact on people with ASD, their families and friends, and on the larger educational, community, vocational, and healthcare systems.

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