Autism is a complex neurological disorder. It may or may not be noticed during infancy. It is usually identified during early childhood between the ages of 2-6 years. People with autism have difficulty communicating and forming relationships.
Autism spectrum disorders include autism, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder. Autism is a lifelong condition that varies in severity depending on the person. Some people with autism need to be cared for their entire life and have other conditions, such as seizures and intellectual disabilities. Others are able to live on their own and work.
The exact cause of autism is not known. Researchers have identified the following factors that may increase a person's risk of developing autism:
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Autism spectrum disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml. Updated October 2016. Accessed March 14, 2017.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html. Updated October 21, 2016. Accessed March 14, 2017.
Causes. The Autism Society website. Available at: http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/causes. Accessed March 14, 2017.
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Last reviewed March 2017 by Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 3/15/2015