Autism FAQ

  1. What is autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

According to Health Canada “ASD is a neurological disorder that affects how the brain functions.” Autism affects 3 main areas of development: social communication, social interaction and repetitive or stereotypic behaviours. 

  1. How is autism diagnosed?

There is no medical tests for autism, rather a physician will observe your child and do a developmental screening. Some of the areas that the doctor will evaluate are communication, behaviour and development (are they meeting developmental milestones?). If the doctor feels it’s warranted they will refer your child to a developmental clinic for further assessment. This further assessment will include an interview with you or another primary caregiver, observation of your child and a standardized test such as the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule). 

  1. What causes autism?

Autism is primarily caused by genetic factors, approximately 80%, while the remaining 20% are caused by environmental factors. This has been demonstrated in twin studies. Vaccinations do not cause autism.

  1. Is there a cure for autism?

There is no cure for autism.  However, there are treatments that can improve the quality of life for the person.  The goal of treatment should be to teach skills that will allow them to be as independent as possible.  

  1. What are the signs of autism?

The signs of autism can be divided into 4 categories: communication, social behaviour, stereotyped behaviour and other behaviour.  For a detailed description of these signs click here. 

  1. Do vaccines cause autism?

Vaccines do not cause autism.  Many people believe that the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine can cause autism. This lie was created by a British physician who was being paid by a vaccine company to create a new measles only vaccine.  There have been hundreds of studies that have shown there is no correlation between vaccines and autism. This doctor had his medical license revoked when his research was disproven. The idea that vaccines cause autism has been carried forward by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, who have used their celebrity status to perpetuate this fabrication.  

  1. What are the treatments for autism?

There has been a lot of research in the treatments for autism.  Much of the research has been focused on behavioural interventions (primarily ABA).  Treatments for autism can be broadly divided into three categories: 

  1. Behavioural and communication based therapies
  2. Nutritional and alternative based therapies 
  3. Medical interventions.  
  4. What is ABA?

Read more about ABA.

  1. Are there medications to treat autism?

While there are no medications to treat autism itself, there are medications that can treat some of the symptoms that are often found in children and adults with autism.  You should speak with your doctor for further information about this.