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Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a range of brain disorders. The disorders result in social, behavioral, and communication problems.
Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders used to be separate problems. They are now included in ASD.
ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. This means that it is caused by problems in brain development. The reason why this happens is not known. It is thought to be caused by genetics or problems during pregnancy, such as infection.
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ASD is more common in boys. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Many people with ASD also have other developmental, medical, or mental health problems. The reason why is not known.
ASD often appears between 2 to 6 years old. Symptoms vary from person to person, but may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. You will also be asked questions about behavior, social skills, and communication abilities. Parents will be asked about their child's behavior. A physical will be done.
Tests will be done to learn more about how the person's brain works. This can be done with neuropsychological tests. The tests will be given by a care team that is experienced in diagnosing ASD.
These tests may be done to rule out health problems that have similar symptoms:
An electroencephalogram (EEG) may also be done to record brain activity.
The goal of treatment is to improve function and quality of life. With treatment, many people can learn how to cope with ASD. They may be able to work and live on their own. Others may need support throughout their lives.
Symptoms may decrease over the years. Treatment should be started early. It may include:
There are no current guidelines to prevent ASD. The cause is not known.
The Autism Society
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Autism Canada Foundation
Autism spectrum disorder fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Autism-Spectrum-Disorder-Fact-Sheet. Accessed September 9, 2020.
Autism spectrum disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml. Accessed September 9, 2020.
Autism spectrum disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/autism-spectrum-disorders. Accessed September 9, 2020.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html. Accessed September 9, 2020.
Johnson CP, Myers SM, et al. Identification and evaluation of children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2007 Nov;120(5):1183-1215.
What is autism? The Autism Society website. Available at: http://www.autism-society.org/what-is. Accessed September 9, 2020.
1/26/2018 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttps://www.dynamed.com/condition/autism-spectrum-disorders: Rai D, Lee BK, et al. Antidepressants during pregnancy and autism in offspring: population based cohort study. BMJ. 2017 Jul 19;358:j2811.
Last reviewed March 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN Last Updated: 3/17/2021