By Camiella Hay

How many of us know a family that has been impacted by a developmental disorder like Autism or Aspergers? What do we really know about how it impacts a person’s life?
There were many famous people in history who lived with the disorder such as Amadeus Mozart and Albert Einstein. Autism does not stop one from living, but requires those around them to think outside the box.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social ability and behavior. It occurs in children of any socioeconomic and cultural background at a rate of 1 in 68 children, and specifically 1 in 42 boys, with no known specific cause or cure (AutismSpeaks, 2016). Characteristics can present as early as 12-24 months.
Myths about Autism
Autism is caused by immunizations: There is no evidence that Autism is linked with immunizations. Interest in the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) was thought to cause Autism because of the mercury-based preservative ‘thimerosal’ which actually dissolves easily in the human body and at the worst may cause redness and a small amount of swelling at the injection site.
Note: All children should be vaccinated to prevent the spread of diseases, especially to protect those with weak immune systems.
Autism is caused by cold and distant parents: There is no link between parenting style and ASD. Researchers indicate there may be several causes such as atypical brain development and genetics.
What to do if I suspect something is wrong?
Early identification and intervention is key! Visiting the Pediatrician yearly is essential for doctors to be able to determine changes in a child’s development. If you have any concerns, visit your Pediatrician/Family Physician immediately. They will refer you to a psychologist who will evaluate your child’s development.
The earlier the better! Waiting lists in Montreal are long in the public system. If possible, private diagnosis is also an option with little wait times, but can cost between $900 – $2000 for the full evaluation and a report. With a diagnosis report, a child is able to get access to specialized services in school and access to government therapy (if under six years old).
As an Autism Therapist and Consultant, I work closely with young people diagnosed with ASD, their parents, and their teachers. I use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Verbal Behavior (VB), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and many other techniques in order to teach.
I am encouraged everyday by the development and progress my clients make during therapy, as well as, their hard work to learn. I always encourage parents to learn as much as they can about Autism and the choice of therapies that exist in order to help their children as early as possible. The more time a child has in therapy increases their likelihood they will gain skills needed for everyday operation in school and at home.
If you need more information, please do not hesitate to send an email to Autism Behavior Institute at: autismbehaviorinstitute@gmail.com
Camiella Hay is an Autism Therapist specializing in autism spectrum disorders, developmental disorders, academic integration, and training. She is also a graduate student completing her Master of Science in Psychology, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis in the USA.