Zwaigenbaum L, Brian JA, Ip A; Canadian Paediatric Society, Autism Spectrum Disorder Guidelines Task Force
Paediatr Child Health 2019 24(7):424–432.
Posted: Oct 24 2019

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a life-long neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by impairments in social communication, repetitive, restricted patterns of behaviour, and unusual sensory sensitivities or interests. ASD significantly impacts the lives of children and their families. Currently, the estimated prevalence of ASD is 1 in 66 Canadians aged 5 to 17 years. General paediatricians, family physicians, and other health care professionals are, therefore, seeing more children with ASD in their practices. The timely diagnosis of ASD, and referral for intensive behavioural and educational interventions at the earliest age possible, may lead to better long-term outcomes by capitalizing on the brain’s neuroplasticity at younger ages. This statement provides clear, comprehensive, evidence-informed recommendations and tools to help community paediatricians and other primary care providers monitor for the earliest signs of ASD—an important step toward an accurate diagnosis and comprehensive needs assessment for intervention planning.