AUTISM spectrum disorder (ASD)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development.
The disorder is a lifelong, complex condition that occurs as a result of disordered brain structure, growth and development.
The disorder is thought to stem from a genetic predisposition triggered by environmental factors that differ from person to person. Autism in South Africa has been stigmatised due to a lack of knowledge, medical research, improper diagnosis and cultural misconceptions.
To remove this stigma and create an autistic friendly society the Department of Social Development has nationally prioritised the developmental rights of children with autism. This is being done by implementing community-based empowerment programmes for parents and care-givers of children with autism in partnership with Autism South Africa.
Social Development is also collaborating with Autism SA, among others, in a research project to determine the actual cost of autism to the family, the cost of opportunity, the cost of loss of opportunity, as well as the cost of services. Autism South Africa has been the fore-runner and an active body in bringing awareness and providing information to the South African society about ASD.
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