Autism is defined by the presence of difficulties in three (3) areas: social deficits, communication problems and repetitive or restricted behaviors, with an onset in at least one area by age three (3). It may or may not be associated with language delays or intellectual disability.
It is estimated that one (1) in every 68 children is diagnosed with autism (and one (1) in every 42 boys), making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (or ASD) is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).
The other pervasive developmental disorders are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger's Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
ASD is a "spectrum disorder" because it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for ASD, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.