Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder
characterized by impaired social interaction ,
verbal and non-verbal communication , and
restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents
usually notice signs in the first two years of
their child’s life. The signs typically develop
gradually, but some children with autism will
reach their developmental milestones at a
normal pace and then regress .
Autism is highly heritable, but the cause
includes both environmental factors and
genetic susceptibility. In rare cases, autism
is strongly associated with agents that cause
birth defects. Controversies surround other
proposed environmental causes; for
example, the vaccine hypotheses are
biologically implausible and have been
disproven in scientific studies. The diagnostic
criteria require that symptoms become
apparent in early childhood, typically before
age three. Autism affects information
processing in the brain by altering how nerve
cells and their synapses connect and organize;
how this occurs is not well understood. It is
one of three recognized disorders in the autism
spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger
syndrome , which lacks delays in cognitive
development and language, and pervasive
developmental disorder, not otherwise specified
(commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is
diagnosed when the full set of criteria for
autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.
Early behavioral , cognitive, or speech
interventions can help children with autism
gain self-care, social, and communication
skills. Although there is no known cure,
there have been reported cases of children
who recovered. Not many children with
autism live independently after reaching
adulthood, though some become successful.
An autistic culture has developed, with
some individuals seeking a cure and others
believing autism should be accepted as a
difference and not treated as a disorder.
As of 2010 the rate of autism is estimated at
about 1–2 per 1,000 people worldwide, and it
occurs four to five times more often in boys
than girls. About 1.5% of children in the United
States (one in 68) are diagnosed with ASD as
of 2014, a 30% increase from one in 88 in
2012.The rate of autism among
adults aged 18 years and over in the United
Kingdom is 1.1%The number of people
diagnosed has been increasing dramatically
since the 1980s, partly due to changes in
diagnostic practice and government-subsidized
financial incentives for named diagnoses;
the question of whether actual rates have
increased is unresolved.


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