Autism is a spectrum disorder – meaning it has many forms that affect people in a variety of ways and in varying degrees. Each person’s experience with autism presents unique challenges, as well as strengths, which define the type of support needed to lead a fulfilling life. The facts and figures on the following pages help us better understand the complex and diverse effects of autism on people living with the condition, their families and our nation as a whole. In particular, this year’s special report dives deeply into the latest research on the physical and mental health conditions that frequently accompany autism. We now know, beyond doubt, that for many people, autism is a whole-body disorder. (Bolton 2009, Croen 2015) Its frequent co-morbidities include seizures, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disturbances, eating and feeding challenges, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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