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Autism Spectrum Disorder – Overview

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability. It affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.


  • Currently it is estimated that one in 68 people are on the autism spectrum.
  • ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • ASDs are almost 5 times more common among boys than girls .


It is a spectrum condition; this means that while people with ASD share certain characteristics, they will be highly individual in their needs and preferences. Some people with ASD are able to live relatively independent lives but others may face additional challenges, including learning disabilities, which affect them so profoundly that they need support in many areas. People with ASD may also experience hyper (over) and hypo (under) sensitivities to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.


An individual diagnosed with ASD may receive a diagnosis of “Autism Spectrum disorder” on it’s own or may be diagnosed an Autism Spectrum Disorder specifying one of the three types below.


Please note that since changes with DSM 5 Aspergers Syndrome diagnosis in many cases had been replaced by Autism Spectrum Disorder .


The three different types of autism spectrum disorders are:


1. Autistic Disorder (also known as “classic” autism). This is the most common condition among the ASDs. It is marked by major delays in language, difficulties with social interactions, and unusual behaviors. Some people with autistic disorder also have impaired intellectual abilities.


2. Asperger Syndrome. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have difficulties with social interaction and unusual behaviours. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.


3. Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PPD-NOS, also referred to as “atypical autism”). Individuals may be diagnosed with PPD-NOS when they show difficulties in more than one area but don’t fulfill clearly the criteria for Autistic Disorder or Asperger Syndrome but there is a severe impairment in behaviours.