What is autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder featuring a range of social impairments, communication difficulties and repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviors. ASD varies considerably in character and severity between children and is currently estimated to affect approximately 1 in 80 kids by age 8.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The hallmark of ASD is impaired social interaction. As early as infancy, and generally by preschool age, children with ASD may be less or overly responsive to touch, make poor eye contact, struggle to understand social cues, such as voice or facial expressions, and fail to enjoy imaginative and interactive playing. Inflexible adherence to repetitive movements and certain objects, as well as difficulty handling social stimulation can lead to dramatic temper outbursts. Communication difficulties are evident early, as children with ASD generally talk late. Some speak in a song-like voice about a narrow range of topics, and they often struggle when it comes to talking with other children.
What causes autism?
The cause is not yet known, but extensive research points to a strong genetic component. Although an environmental trigger is theorized, the exact nature of that trigger is unknown. Vaccines have been heavily scrutinized and repeatedly found in large, well-designed scientific studies not to be the cause of autism.