Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a group of conditions that affect social interactions, behavior, and communication. It is an umbrella term that includes conditions known as autistic disorder, asperger syndrome, and non-specific pervasive developmental disorders. ASD is usually found in children in the first 2 to 6 years of life. This is when they are going through periods of rapid development and growth. However, some may not be diagnosed until adulthood. ASD affects each person differently. Some are able to live and work on their own. Others may have severe intellectual disabilities or seizures.
ASD is caused by changes in how the brain and nerves develop and work. The exact cause of ASD is not known. Changes in genes passed through families is thought to be a major factor.
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Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 8/15/2019