What is autism?
Autism is one of a group of biological and neurological disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Autism is typically noticed and/or diagnosed between 18 months and 5 years of age. Autism can cause substantial impairments in social interaction, communication, learning and other behaviors. Many people with ASDs also have unusual ways of paying attention, reacting to different sensations, or perseverating on topics of special interest. The thinking and learning abilities of people with ASDs can vary—from gifted to severely challenged, both verbal and nonverbal. Some people affected with ASDs must be cared for one on one, others learn to communicate well and eventually live independently. Research shows that early detection and intervention can greatly improve a child’s development.
ASDs include autism, Asperger syndrome, and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified). ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups all over the world. In the
United States, the CDC reported in 2007 an approximate 1 in 150 children has an autism spectrum disorder.
Please see the “Autism Charities” link for more information.