Autism Spectrum Disorders


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) include autism, Aspergers Disorder (no longer a formal diagnosis), childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), and pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). All of these disorders share some of the same symptoms, such as developmental language delays, although they can vary quite a bit otherwise. Studies have been done that show autism spectrum disorders are linked to brain development, more specifically, a combination of brain reductions and brain enlargements in different areas.

Signs & Symptoms of ASD:

ASD has an array of typical symptoms that may include any number of combinations – depending on the person. ASD may look quite different from person to person, even thought they may share the same diagnosis. As well, ASD is a considered a spectrum of symptoms and people with ASD can fall anywhere along the spectrum from slightly to highly impacted.

Symptoms of ASD include:

  • Slow, or lack of, language development
  • Unusual communication styles such as talking in movie quotes, repeating phrases out of context,
  • Cognitive delays
  • Repetitive motions or behaviours (rocking, fidgeting, “stimming”)
  • Issues with social development
  • Sensitivity to loud noises, smells, textures, flavours, light, temperature etc.
  • Fixations with textures, sounds, and other self-soothing methods
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme aversion to change


The first step is to obtain a diagnosis. There are multiple tests used to assess or diagnose ASD. Insight can administer these tests. In addition to diagnosis, you may be seeking support for your child or yourself, if you have or suspect you have ASD.

A suspicion (or confirmation) of ASD may be a relief (finally, there is a name, and therefore an understanding of the condition and possible treatment) or the diagnosis can bring feelings of anxiety (what kind of life will my child have?), grief (your expectations have likely changed – perhaps significantly), and even anger (why me? or why my child?)

ASD is a complex disorder and with it, comes complex feelings and issues. If you or your child are feeling overwhelmed with:

  • Any of the symptoms of ASD
  • Reactions to the diagnosis or suspected diagnosis of ASD
  • The process of diagnosis or support (this can be a cumbersome and overwhelming experience)

Then it’s time to get some support. You don’t have to carry this alone. There is help!


There are multiple treatment methods for the person with ASD. There are different schools of thought on how to treat autism. Some people say to change the undesirable behaviour and others say the cure is “acceptance’ and forcing people with ASD into a neurotypical world is difficult.

This is an individual choice that can be made with the support of a therapist. We do know that early intervention is very important in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This is why a full assessment must be done before the appropriate therapies can be decided upon. Behavioural therapy is one such option, but there may be others that are effective as well.


Speaking with a therapist with experience in ASD will help you to better understand your or your child’s condition. You can learn coping skills for yourself and ways to support your loved one with ASD.

Insight Psychological has trained therapists who can help. Please call one of our six Alberta locations today.