|OTTAWA, April 2, 2018 -- One in every 66 Canadian children and youth aged five to 17 has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a report issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada on Thursday.
ASD is typically detected in early childhood and causes impairments in communication skills and social interactions, often combined with repetitive behaviours and restricted interests or activities.
The Canadian federal government's 2018 budget earmarked 20 million Canadian dollars for a national autism strategy, including a network to connect people with ASD and their families to information, resources and employment opportunities, and community-based projects to strengthen health, social and educational programs.
Understanding trends and patterns in ASD diagnosis is essential to developing meaningful programs and services to support people living with ASD and their families, said Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, adding that the estimates establish a baseline that will help researchers determine if prevalence rates are changing over time.
Regardless if this increase is due to better diagnostics, increased awareness or increased incidence, there is an urgent need for a national autism strategy, Autism Canada's Executive DirectorLaurie Mawlam, said in a statement on Thursday.