Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

An umbrella term that represents a brain disorder that affects:

  • Communication Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Play & Behaviour

In the past, ASD was referred to as one of four different but related conditions:

  • Autistic disorder
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Asperger's disorder
  • Pervasive developmental disorder

ASD is characterized by two main difficulties: impairment in social communication and the presence of restricted, repetitive and stereotyped behaviours. Difficulties in sensory processing, emotional regulation and motor skills may also be demonstrated. ASD is typically identified through a team-based approach led by a developmental paediatrician, child psychiatrist, or psychologist experienced in the area of ASD. The diagnostic team, that includes other health professionals, takes into consideration a child's early development and current developmental level. The characteristics of ASD may change as a child grows older, however the difficulties in socialization, communication, and interests continue in adulthood. 



children are identified with ASD.

The Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication (ACSF)

CanChild researchers have developed a new tool to help identify ‘levels’ of social communication skills among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication (ACSF) is a five-level descriptive system based on the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF).  

The ACSF will not replace any diagnostic tools or assessments, and it is not a test or a checklist. The ACSF provides a standardized and simplified way for clinicians, therapists, teachers, and parents to talk about what a child’s social communication abilities are – what they CAN DO rather than what they cannot do, in two situations:

  • When they are performing at their best (Capacity)
  • What they usually do (Typical Performance)

This information can then be communicated easily between parents and professionals (educators, clinicians) to help people understand and potentially improve a child’s social communication functioning in everyday life.

The ACSF Tool & User Guide is available for download in our resources section

The ACSF - An Introduction

This video is designed to answer basic questions about the ACSF, explaining aspects such as the tool's purpose, the five levels, and how a child is scored.

The ACSF team is also eager to hear your thoughts on the video. After watching, please complete a short survey here:

See more resources here