World Autism

By Sarah Jessop, Human Resources Generalist

April is World Autism Month, an annual opportunity for a dedicated conversation and celebration of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism touches more than 70 million people globally, and at ASP we have a number of employees who either have Autism or know someone who does.

In fact, 1 in 44 people are on the Autism spectrum, with this number continuing to grow each day as more children and youth in Canada are diagnosed with ASD.

There is no one type of Autism, but many. Each case is unique, as each individual with ASD experiences their own challenges. We encourage you to take some time to learn more about Autism by reviewing the resources on the Autism Canada website here.

With ASD diagnosis rates increasing for Canadian children, we have no doubt that many ASP employees are parenting or caring for a child with ASD.

In celebration of Autism, we’d like to share some resources for the parents and caregivers of these children so that you have the knowledge and resources needed to help them thrive in their community.

Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Before getting an assessment and diagnosis, it’s important to pay attention to the signs of Autism in your child. The initial signs of Autism vary widely and can appear at different times. Some show signs at a very young age, while others don’t show signs until later in life.

Understanding, embracing and celebrating the different ways that individuals with ASD think and do encourages those with Autism to reach their full potential. Some of the great skills that individuals with ASD may possess include, but are not limited to:

  • Attention to detail (thoroughness, accuracy)
  • Deep focus (concentration, freedom from distraction)
  • Observational skills
  • Absorb and retain facts (excellent long-term memory, superior recall)
  • Visual skills (visual learning and recall, detail focused)
  • Expertise (in-depth knowledge, high level of skills)
  • Methodical approach (analytical, spotting patterns)
  • Novel approaches (unique thought processes and innovative solutions)
  • Creativity (Distinctive imagination, expression of ideas)
  • Tenacity and resilience (Determination, challenge opinions)
  • Accepting of difference (less likely to judge others, may question norms)
  • Integrity (honesty, loyalty, commitment)

Getting an Assessment and Diagnosis

If you believe your child could have Autism, the best thing to do is speak with your health care provider. They will likely refer you to a specialist that is qualified to assess and diagnose ASD. You can prepare for a meeting with your health care provider or specialist by taking photographs, keeping logs or diaries, or making video recordings that demonstrate any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms.

Below is a table of some of the possible signs and symptoms of Autism that you may see at different ages.

Up to 12 months of age• little or no babbling
• little or no eye contact
• showing more interest in objects than people
• appearing not to hear when spoken to directly
• playing with toys in an unusual or limited manner
• repetitive movements with their fingers, hands, arms or head
• starting to develop language skills but then stopping or losing those skills
Up to 2 years of age• very specific area of interest
• limited or no interest in other children
• behavioural issues like self-injury or self-isolation
• repeating words or phrases without appearing to understand them
• difficulty with reciprocal social interactions (like playing peek-a-boo)
• liking to have things a certain way, such as always eating the same food
Any Age• little eye contact
• distinct reactions to:
» lights
» tastes
» smells
» sounds
» colours
» textures
» very specific interests
» repeating words or phrases (echolalia)
» repetitive behaviours, such as spinning
» nonverbal communication or delayed language development
» intense reactions to minor changes in routine or surroundings

Government Programs and Support

ASP employees throughout the country should consider the government resources in their province if they are the parent or caregiver of a child diagnosed with ASD. Below is a list of just some of the offerings available in your region:

Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD)
  • The Alberta FSCD program works with eligible families to provide support and services based on each child and family’s needs.
  • More information can be found here:
New Brunswick
Preschool Autism Program
Nova Scotia
Support for Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • The government of Nova Scotia offers a variety of programs and services for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention and Direct Family Support Programs for Children (DFSC).
  • More information can be found here:
Ontario Autism Program
  • The Ontario Government’s Autism Program offers foundational family services, core clinical services, urgent response services, caregiver-mediated early years programs and an entry to school program on a needs-basis.
  • More information can be found here:
Services for Persons with a Physical or Intellectual
Disability or an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Category: Diversity and Inclusion