What is Autism? 
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences. 
Prevalence of ASD
ASD is not rare. Current studies estimate that 1 in 68 children will be diagnosed with ASD (Center for Disease Control, 2015). Experts disagree about whether there has been a true increase in the prevalence of ASD over the last several years or whether the guidelines for clinical diagnosis have changed to allow for more symptoms to meet the criteria for having ASD. Today, many more parents and doctors know about ASD; parents are more likely to take their children to be diagnosed and doctors are more able to properly diagnose. These and other changes may help explain some of the increase in prevalence over the last few decades. Even so, more children are being diagnosed now with ASD than ever before.
Autism Assessment
The Grande Prairie Catholic School district has a multidisciplinary team consisting of a Speech and Language Pathologist, an Occupational Therapist, and a Psychologist that does Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale assessments. This is a very specialized assessment that includes time with the child and an extensive interview with the parents to get a developmental history. This assessment is often accompanied by an educational assessment. Information gathered by this can provide a diagnosis, recommendations for learning, and building a plan for a successful future.