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. 

1

68

children are identified with ASD.

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

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:SC) is a five-level descriptive system based the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF).  

The ACSF:SC will not replace any diagnostic tools or assessments, and it is not a test or a checklist. The ACSF:SC 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 preforming at their best (Capacity)
  • What they usually do (Typical Performance)

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

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

Resources

Learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Occupational Therapy In Brief

Articles by CanChild members

About families:

Muskat B, Burnham Riosa P, Nicholas DB, Roberts W, Stoddart KP, Zwaigenbaum L. Autism comes to the hospital: The experiences of patients with autism spectrum disorder, their parents and health-care providers at two Canadian paediatric hospitals. Autism. 2014 May 8:1362361314531341. [Epub ahead of print]

Zaidman-Zait A, Mirenda P, Duku E, Szatmari P, Georgiades S, Volden J, Zwaigenbaum L, Vaillancourt T, Bryson S, Smith I, Fombonne E. Examination of bidirectional relationships between parent stress and two types of problem behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2014 Aug 1;44(8):1908-17.[Epub ahead of print]

Hodgetts S, McConnell D, Zwaigenbaum L, Nicholas D. The Impact of autism services on mothers' occupational balance and participation. OTJR: Occupation, Participation & Health. 2014 Mar 1;34(2):81-93. doi: 10.3928/15394492-20130109-01. Epub 2014 Jan 17 .

Hodgetts S, Nicholas D, Zwaigenbaum L. Home sweet home? Families' experiences with aggression in children with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. 2013 Sep 1;28(3):166-74.

King G, Zwaigenbaum L, Bates A, Baxter D, Rosenbaum P. Parent views of the positive contributions of elementary and high school‐aged children with autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome. Child: Care, Health and Development. 2012 Nov 1;38(6):817-28 [Epub PMID: 21916929].

About siblings:

Kuwaik G, Roberts W, Zwaigenbaum L, Bryson S, Smith I, Szatmari P, Modi BM, Tanel N, Brian J. Immunization uptake in younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 2014 Feb 1;18(2):148-55.

Georgiades S, Szatmari P, Zwaigenbaum L, Bryson S, Brian J, Roberts W, Smith I, Vaillancourt T, Roncadin C, Garon N. A prospective study of autistic-like traits in unaffected siblings of probands with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry. 2013 Jan 1;70(1):42-8.

Messinger D, Young G, Ozonoff S, Dobkins K, Carter A, Zwaigenbaum L, Landa RJ, Charman T, Stone WL, Constantino JN, Hutman T. Beyond autism: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium study of high-risk children at three years of age. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2013 Mar 31;52(3):300-8.

Georgiades S, Szatmari P, Zwaigenbaum L, Bryson S, Brian J, Roberts W, Smith I, Vaillancourt T, Roncadin C, Garon NA. A prospective study of autistic-like traits in unaffected siblings of probands with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of American Medical Association Psychiatry. 2013 Jan 1;70(1):42-8.

Ozonoff S, Young G, Carter A, Messinger D, Yirmiya N, Zwaigenbaum L, Bryson S, Carver LJ, Constantino JN, Dobkins K, Hutman T. Recurrence risk for autism spectrum disorders: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium study. Pediatrics. 2011 Sep 1;128(3):e488-95 .

About language and social skills:

Di Rezze B, Rosenbaum P, Zwaigenbaum L, Hidecker MJC, Stratford P, Cousins M, Camden C, & Law M. Developing a classification system of social communication functioning of preschool school children with autism spectrum disorder. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. 2016 May 17 [Epub ahead of print]

Di Rezze B, Rosenbaum P, Zwaigenbaum L. What Attributes Determine Severity of Function in Autism? A web-based survey of Stakeholders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 2012 Mar 1; 27(1):39-41.

Bennett TA, Szatmari P, Georgiades K, Hanna S, Janus M, Georgiades S, Duku E, Bryson S, Fombonne E, Smith IM, Mirenda P. Language impairment and early social competence in preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder: A comparison of DSM-5 profiles. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2014 Nov 1;44(11):2797-808. [Epub ahead of print]

Duku E, Vaillancourt T, Szatmari P, Georgiades S, Zwaigenbaum L, Smith I,  Smith IM, Bryson S, Fombonne E, Mirenda P, Roberts W, Volden J. Investigating the measurement properties of the social responsiveness scale in preschool children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2013 Apr 1;43(4):860-68.

About behaviour:

Zaidman-Zait A, Mirenda P, Duku E, Szatmari P, Georgiades S, Volden J, Zwaigenbaum L, Vaillancourt T, Bryson S, Smith I, Fombonne E. Examination of bidirectional relationships between parent stress and two types of problem behavior in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2014 Aug 1;44(8);1908-17. [Epub ahead of print]

Reitzel J, Summers J, Lorv B, Szatmari P, Zwaigenbaum L, Georgiades S, Duku E. Pilot randomized controlled trial of a Functional Behavior Skills Training program for young children with autism spectrum disorder who have significant early learning skill impairments and their families. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2013 Nov 30;7(11):1418-32.

Hodgetts S, Nicholas D, Zwaigenbaum L. Home sweet home? Families' experiences with aggression in autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. 2013 Sep 1;28(3):166-174.

Talwar V, Zwaigenbaum L, Goulden K, Manji S, Loomes C, Rasmussen C. Lie-telling behavior in children with autism and its relation to false-belief understanding. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. 2012 Jul 1; 27(2):122-129.

About infants and preschoolers:

Sacrey L, Germani T, Bryson S, Zwaigenbaum L. (2014) Reaching and grasping in autism spectrum disorder: A review of recent literature. Arm and Hand Movement: Current Knowledge and Future Perspective. 2015 May 27;5(6):40.

Sacrey L, Bryson S, Zwaigenbaum L. Prospective examination of visual attention during play in infants at high-risk for autism spectrum disorder: A longitudinal study from 6 to 36 months of age. Behavioural Brain Research, 2013 Nov 1256:441-50. [Epub ahead of print: PMID: 24004846].

About adolescents:

Nicholas D, Attridge M, Zwaigenbaum L, Clarke M. (2014) Vocational support approaches in autism spectrum disorder: A synthesis review of the  literature. Autism. 2014 Jan 21:1362361313516548. [Epub ahead of print; PMID: 24449603].

Kuo MH, Orsmond GI, Coster WJ, Cohn ES. Media use among adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Autism. 2014 Nov 1;18(8);914-23.

Kuo MH, Orsmond GI, Cohn ES, Coster WJ. Friendship characteristics and activity patterns of adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism. 2013 Jul 1;17(4):481-500.

About the identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

Zwaigenbaum L, Bryson S, Garon N. Early Identification of autism spectrum disorder. Behavior Brain Research. 2013 Aug 15; 251:133-46.

Leavey A, Zwaigenbaum L, Heavner K, Burstyn I. Gestational age at birth and risk of autism spectrum disorder in Alberta, Canada. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2013 Feb 28;162(2):361-8.

Di Rezze  B, Rosenbaum P, Zwaigenbaum L . What attributes determine severity of function in autism? A web-based survey of stakeholders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. 2012 Mar 1; 27(1):39-41.

Zwaigenbaum L, Bryson SE, Szatmari P, Brian J, Smith IM, Roberts W, Vaillancourt T, Roncadin C. Sex differences in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Identified Within a High-Risk Infant Cohort. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorder, 2012 Dec 1; 42(12):2585-96.

Al-Qabandi M, Gorter JW, Rosenbaum P. Early autism detection: are we ready for routine screening? Pediatrics. 2011 Jul 1;128(1):e211-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-1881. Epub 2011 Jun 13. Review.

About general topics:

Anagnostou E, Zwaigenbaum L, Szatmarii P,  Fombonne E, Fernandez BA, Woodbury-Smith M, Brian J, Bryson S, Smith IM, Drmic I, Buchanan JA. Autism spectrum disorder: advances in evidence-based practice. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2014 Apr 15:186(7):509-19. [Epub ahead of print; PMID: 24418986].

Hodgetts S, Nicholas D, Zwaigenbaum L, McConnell D. Families' and professionals' perceptions of family-centered care for children with autism across service sectors. Social Science & Medicine, 2013 Nov 30; 96:138-46.