CMHA Ontario joins individuals and organizations across the country to recognize and support National Autism Awareness Month this April.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a wide range of conditions related to brain development. According to the World Health Organization, autism affects about one in 100 children. Characteristics of autism may be detected in early childhood, but an official diagnosis may not come until later in life.
While autism is a neurodevelopmental difference and/or disability, a high proportion of individuals who live with autism spectrum disorder face mental health issues. These can be caused by experiences of bullying, communication differences and social isolation. Individuals with autism also often lack of appropriate resources and supports and experience lower rates of employment, in part because of discrimination and difficulties in neurotypical environments that create barriers for full inclusion and participation.
According to the University of British Columbia, nearly 78 per cent of children with autism have at least one mental health condition, and nearly half have two or more mental health conditions. This is in stark contrast to the just over 14 per cent of youth without autism that have a mental health condition.
As for adults, it’s estimated that seven in 10 people with autism have a mental health condition. People with autism are also at a higher risk substance misuse and suicide.
Provincially, CMHAs works with partners including Autism Ontario to deliver a mental health program tailored to support those on the autism spectrum and their caregivers. Learn more here.
Help us create awareness about autism and mental health on social media this month by using the hashtag #AutismAwarenessMonth.