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 and art.

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.