Less than twenty-four hours after facing criticism, the Ontario government says it now has an autism expert committee in place. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services announced this new team today.

It will comprise of a team of eight experts, who will help the government get a handle on the disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorder is very complex and the exact cause is still a mystery.

Amanda Bell has three children and all of them have some form of Autism.

President of Autism Ontario Waterloo Region Amanda Bell says, “All three of them are very different and all three present differently.”

Autistic spectrum disorder is like an umbrella. There’s Asperger’s where people are high functioning but have trouble with social situations.

Autistic disorderis more severe, social communication and cognitive developments are delayed.

Then there are people with PDD-NOS or Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

Bell says, “They don't really fit the criteria for either Asperger’s syndrome or autistic disorder... but they do have enough of the symptoms of either or a combination of both.

Experts say because the Autism Spectrum Disorder is so wide ranging, so are the symptoms.

Some of the symptoms to look for in a toddler include:

  • Not responding to their name
  • Not pointing at objects to show interest
  • Not wanting to cuddle or hug

Client manager of Autism Services at KidsAbility, Wendy Evans says, “Sometimes they may look like any other child but after an assessment…They’re not making eye contact for example or their communication is delayed.”

Two years ago, one out of 150 children were diagnosed with some form of ASD, that figure is now one out of 88. Researchers say one possibility for the jump in the number of diagnoses, is that more children are being screened.

Psychologist and Autism researcher at York University Dr. James Bebko, says “Some (researchers) suggest that it accounts for about 2 thirds of the increase and that there may be other variables like environmental variables.”

Genetics are  the latest factors to join the list of speculated causes of autism.

“The causes of autism of aren't really known. There’s a lot of work being done to try to identify some of those causes but it's one of those really elusive situations” says Bebko.

It’s a situation say the Bells, that there's no point dwelling on.

“I did everything right when i had my pregnancies and I ended up with three children on the spectrum."

Her son is on the more severe end of the spectrum, yet he's possesses an incredible gift.

“Robert is capable of looking at something and being able to replicate that with no drawings or anything like that, he's got an incredible memory.”