Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain.
What causes ASD?
In some cases there is a genetic heritage, but in others there is no known causes. Scientists believe there are multiple ways in which ASD can change the ways in which people develop, but there is still much to learn about the causes of ASD and the impact on those with it.
What are the symptoms of ASD?
Individuals with ASD may behave, communicate and interact in ways that are different from most other people. However, there is often nothing about the way that they look that sets them apart. People with ASD can also have very different abilities. For instance, some individuals might have very advanced conversational skills whereas others might be nonverbal. Some might need a lot of help in their daily lives while others can live independently with little or no support.
How is ASD diagnosed?
ASD can be identified during early childhood and lasts throughout a person's life. As individuals journey through life, they might have difficulty starting and maintaining friendships, communicating with their peers and other adults or understanding what the expectations are in school or the workplace. However, symptoms can improve over time, particularly if the condition is picked up early and effective interventions are established.
Often, people with ASD come to the attention of healthcare providers because they also have conditions such as anxiety, depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which occur more often in people with ASD than in those without.
This website provides more detailed information about ASD.
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