Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and intellectual disabilities (ID)



  • The most current and conservative statistics indicate that 1 in 68 children will receive an ASD diagnosis.2 An estimated 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed with ASD in North America.
  • 1 in 100 individuals are diagnosed with an intellectual disability in North America.1
  • In Quebec, approximately 150,000 individuals have an ASD and/or an ID, 54,000 have ASDs only, 74,000 has IDs only and 22,000 have both.1
  • ASD is 7 times more prevalent in children than diabetes, 8 times more prevalent than cerebral palsy, and 41 times more prevalent than cystic fibrosis.1
  • The trend appears to be growing in Quebec, with the rate of ASDs increasing at 26% per year since 2001.3,4

What is ASD?

An Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is typically diagnosed in childhood.

  • It affects the brain development of children, and although signs are discernible at quite a young age (as early as 10 months of age), ASD can be diagnosed at about the time that one would expect speech to develop (around 16 to 24 months of age).
  • Difficulty in developing both communication and social skills are accompanied by restrictive or repetitive behaviours (such as lining up objects, hand flapping or not playing functionally with toys).1
  • Presence of an intellectual disability, communication disorder, epilepsy or other genetic disorder is present in approximately 70% of people with ASD.
  • There is not one known cause; there are many factors that are thought to contribute to ASD: most probably a combination of genetic and environmental factors that lead to abnormal brain development.

What is ID?

An Intellectual Disability (ID), it is a disorder with onset during the developmental period that includes both intellectual and adaptive functioning deficits in conceptual, social, and practical domains. IDs are characterized by:

  • Deficits in intellectual functions, such as reasoning, problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning and learning from experience, and practical understanding confirmed by both clinical assessment and individualized, standardized intelligence testing.
  • Deficits in adaptive functioning that result in failure to meet developmental and sociocultural standards for personal independence and social responsibility. Without ongoing support, the adaptive deficits limit functioning in one or more activities of daily life, such as communication, social participation, and independent living; across multiple environments, such as home, school, work, and recreation.

ASD and ID Needs: Ages and Stages
Early childhood needs

  • Early specialist interdisciplinary assessment to guide treatment decisions.
  • Specialist assessment/diagnostic services to rule out or address any other conditions.
  • Accessible, high quality, early intensive intervention services.
  • Guidance for parents by a reputable source, to navigate the system.
  • Specialised daycare services.
  • Parental support and education.
  • Ensuring that children will achieve readiness skills to be able to integrate and transition into school.

School-aged needs

  • Ensuring that the children are receiving proper education.
  • Provision of consultancy services to address problem behaviours & learning goals.
  • Provision of appropriate learning materials and educational tools.
  • Finding respite care for tired parents.
  • Transition services for children moving from school to adult life.

Adulthood needs

  • Innovative job creation initiatives.
  • Residential care for individuals no longer able to live with their natural families.
  • Specialised medical care, dental care, and geriatric services.

Costs 5

  • Depending on the severity of ASD, recent estimates place the costs between $25,000 and $158,000 per year per affected individuals.
  • This is the equivalent of $5.5 million over the lifespan for the highest support needs individuals.


2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years -- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010 Surveillance Summaries, March 28, 2014 / 63(SS02);1-21.

3 Noiseux, M. (2008). Portrait épidémiologique des TED chez les enfants du Québec. L’Express. Le Fédération québécoise de l’autisme. [ quebec.html].

4 Faits-saillants-TED-40-pages.pdf

5 White, R. (2013). The Sinneave Family Foundation / The Ability HubMandate. Posted on-line. June 3rd, 2013.