Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autism can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention as well as with physical health issues, such as sleep problems and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder. Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group.
Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
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COMMON SIGNS OF AUTISM:
The hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction. As early as infancy, a baby with ASD may be unresponsive to people or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time. A child with autism may appear to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
Children with an autism may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people. They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior. They lack empathy.
Many children with an ASD engage in repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging. They also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.” Children with an ASD don’t know how to play interactively with other children. Some speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to whom they are speaking.