What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of
complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying
degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and
repetitive behaviors. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties
in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and
gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math
Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most
obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of
age. Early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes.
Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC)
identify around 1 in 110 American children as on the autism spectrum—a 600 percent
increase in prevalence over the past two decade3s. Careful research shows that this
increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. Studies also
show that autism is three to four times more common among boys than girls. An
estimated 1 out of 70 boys is diagnosed with autism in the United States.