One in 110 Canadian children are now being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. It is most common in boys at a ratio of four to one. Conditions on the spectrum range from mild, often called high-functioning, to severe. The main classifications are Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD).
The most basic autism symptoms that will result in a diagnosis somewhere on the autism spectrum are difficulty in communication, difficulty with social skills, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviours. Sensitivity to sensory input is also very common. Each person on the spectrum presents differently, with some symptoms stronger and some weaker than in another person.
Those with PDD do not fit all the criteria for a classic autism diagnosis and is therefore usually considered mild. However, those with PDD may have severe impairment in one symptom or another. CDD is a rare form, in which a child develops normally to about two years of age, and then begins to regress rapidly.
Asperger’s presents as a mild form. It is most characterized by social difficulties, a need to follow routine, and an intense interest in some subject or pursuit. Their cognitive abilities are normal or superior, and there is no delay in the acquisition of speech. Rett syndrome is rare, highly debilitating, and is often fatal. Besides the symptoms of classic autism, mental retardation may be present, and motor skills deteriorate.
The causes of autism are not understood, and there is no cure. It is a lifelong condition which can only be managed. There are many wonderful resources available now to help autistics learn how to cope with the challenges they face just to get through the day. The earlier that a child is introduced to these principles of occupational therapy, the more effective they have been shown to be.
For parents of young children on the spectrum, it can be humiliating to deal with the stares, dirty looks, and whispered comments of strangers who merely assume that the parent cannot control the child. It’s just one more thing on top of the already emotionally taxing daily routine of caring for an autistic child.
There is often a large financial burden, too. Treatments, doctor’s visits, maybe even daily in-home help, all add up. In most families, one parent must stay at home, so there is the impact of lost wages.
One of the options available to Canadians on the autism spectrum is the Disability Tax Credit. In order to qualify for this benefit, your physician completes a form that describes in detail the negative impact of your disability on the activities of your daily life. The tax credit can be used by the disabled or by a supporting family member. The only stipulation is that both be residents of Canada.
The paperwork involved in obtaining the Disability Tax Credit can be somewhat complicated. Many people who have autism and do qualify are rejected simply because of errors in the documentation. Therefore, you may choose to work with an experienced professional who can take you through the process and handle the filing for you. That can improve your chances of being approved