What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disability that generally begins at birth or within the first three years of life. It is the result of a neurological disorder that changes the way the brain functions – causing delays or problems in many different skills from infancy to adulthood. For example, both children and adults with autism usually exhibit difficulties in social interaction as well as in verbal and non-verbal communication. They also tend to be interested in repetitive or restricted activities. While the majority of autistic children look completely normal, they differ from other children by engaging in perplexing and distressing behaviors.
Why is Autism Called a Spectrum Disorder?
Autism belongs to a collection of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). A spectrum disorder is a group of disorders with similar features. While one person may have mild symptoms, another might have more severe ones. There are also differences in the nature of the symptoms themselves and when they are likely to first appear.
The three different types of autism spectrum disorders are:
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National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention