Autism is a complex developmental disorder that has the following three defining core features:
A number of other associated symptoms frequently coexist with autism. Most people with autism have problems using language, forming relationships, and appropriately interpreting and responding to the external world around them.
Autism is a behaviorally defined developmental disorder that begins in early childhood. Although the diagnosis of autism may not be made until a child reaches preschool or school age, the signs and symptoms of autism may be apparent by the time the child is aged 12-18 months, and the behavioral characteristics of autism are almost always evident by the time the child is aged 3 years. Language delay in the preschool years (younger than 5 years) is typically the presenting problem for more severely affected children with autism. Higher functioning children with autism are generally identified with behavioral problems when they are aged approximately 4-5 years or with social problems later in childhood. Autism disorder persists throughout the person's lifetime, although many people are able to learn to control and modify their behavior to some extent.
As of May 2013, autism, along with what were formally described as Asperger's syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders were classified by the American Psychiatric Association as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
All of these disorders are characterized by varying degrees of problems with communication, social interaction, and atypical, repetitive behaviors.
There is a wide range of symptoms, severity, and other manifestations of these disorders. The expression of autism spectrum disorders varies widely among affected individuals. A child with significant impairment in all three of the core functioning areas (socialization, communication, and atypical, repetitive behaviors) may have a lower level-functioning autism spectrum disorder, while a child with similar problems but without delays in language development may have a higher level-functioning autism spectrum disorder.
Some people are affected with fairly mild symptoms and signs of autism. Many of these individuals learn to live independent lives. Others are more severely affected and require lifelong care and supervision.
As the following statistics indicate, autism is a common developmental disorder.
There is no cure for autism; however, there is good news.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2014
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Must Read Articles Related to Autism
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Autism:
Autism - Diagnosis
How was your experience with autism diagnosed?
Autism - Symptoms
What were the symptoms of your children autism?
Autism - Treatment
What treatment was effective for your autism?
- 6 Tips for Getting an ADHD Child to Eat
- Your Guide to a Healthy Baby
- Autism Diagnosis? How to Pay for Care