There is no single symptom that would lead to a diagnosis of autism. But someone who shows a number of the following characteristics and behaviours would likely be diagnosed with an ASD: Shows no interest in other people May be interested in people, but does not know how to talk, interact with or relate to them Has difficulty initiating and maintaining a conversation. Is slow developing speech and language skills, which may begin to develop and then be lost, or may never develop fully. Has difficulty interpreting non-verbal communication such as social distance cues, or the use of gestures and facial cues, like smiles, that most of us take for granted. Repeats ritualistic actions such as spinning, rocking, staring, finger flapping, and hitting oneself. Has restricted interests and seemingly odd habits, like focusing obsessively on only one thing, idea or activity. As well, people with ASD may have secondary problems such as: Neurological disorders including epilepsy. Gastro-intestinal problems. Fine and gross motor deficits. Anxiety and depression. Children with ASD develop motor, language, cognitive and social skills at different rates from other children their age. For instance, they may be very good at solving math problems but have great difficulty making friends or talking." The only reference to intellectual or cognitive disabilities in the CBC News article is in the last paragraph above which implies that cognitive skills may develop at different rates in conjunction with other skills and immediately mentions possible strengths such as solving math problems. This is not by any means a clear and accurate representation of the intellectual disability that is present in large numbers of persons with autism. The CDC in the United States has estimated the numbers of persons across the autism spectrum who also have intellectual disability in the range of 41-44%: Data show a similar proportion of children with an ASD also had signs of intellectual disability than in the past, averaging 44% in 2004 and 41% in 2006. The CDC estimates are consistent with other estimates of the "co-morbidity" of autism and intellectual disability that I have posted links to on this site.
There is no legitimate reason to ignore the large numbers of persons with autism disorders who also have intellectual disabilities. It is a relationship that should be explored and studied ( La Malfa ) not hidden and stigmatized.