Frequently Asked Questions

What is Autism?

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). People with ASD experience difficulty with social and communication skills. They may also have problems with learning, paying attention and making eye contact. They tend to display ritualistic or repetitive behaviour and often struggle with sensory stimulation, such as noise, strong wind and crowds. ASD lasts throughout a person’s lifetime and to date its cause is relatively unknown. Currently, 1 in 160 individuals are diagnosed with autism in Australia and it is more prominent in males.

What is Asperger’s Disorder?

Aspergers Disorder is part of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but regarded as high functioning autism. Typically children with Asperger’s Disorder have difficulty with social interaction, struggle to understand social cues and have ritualistic behaviour. However, they may have highly developed language skills and can communicate at great length about their favourite topics, giving them such nicknames as “little professor”.

What is Global Developmental Delay?

Global Developmental Delay is a general term used to describe a child who is slower to reach milestones than other children. Delay may occur in the child’s motor skills, communication, cognitive, learning or social skills. Often the term is only used until the cause of the delay is identified. A delay can be transient (temporary) or persistent (permanent).

What is an Intellectual Disability?

An Intellectual disability is when a child has reduced capacity to think and learn new skills. A child is considered to have an intellectual disability when their scores on a cognitive assessment are 70 or below. Intellectual disability can occur when a child has abnormal chromosomes, born prematurely, severely malnourished, a brain injury or structural problems with the brain. It can be caused by infection or drug and alcohol abuse by a child’s mother during pregnancy. However, for many children, especially those with mild intellectual disability, no cause is found. The degree of intellectual disability varies greatly from child to child. In general, the milder the disability, the later it is detected.

What are Emotional and Behavioural Disorders?

An Emotional and Behavioural Disorder (EBD) in children is typically characterised by one or more of the following: 1. Inability to build or maintain interpersonal relationships with carers and peers. 2. Inability or difficulty to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors. 3. Consistent or chronic inappropriate type of behaviour or feelings under normal circumstances. 4. Displayed pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. 5. Displayed tendency to develop physical symptoms, pains or unreasonable fears associated with personal or school problems. The child’s difficulty is often emotionally based and cannot be adequately explained by intellectual, cultural, sensory or general health factors, which may cause inappropriate or aggressive behaviour.

What are Speech and Language Disorders?

A speech disorder is different from a language delay:

  • Children with speech disorders may have good language skills, meaning they use and understand words well. But they may have difficulty pronouncing the sounds in words, making their speech difficult to understand.
  • Children with language delays often only have few words in their vocabulary for a child their age or they might not seem to understand what you say.
What is Dyspraxia?

Speech dyspraxia is a developmental disability characterised by difficulty in muscle control, specifically of the muscles involved in producing speech. It is caused by a neurological difference that has not yet been identified.

Note: in many instances children can have more than one developmental delay.