Autism spectrum disorder (also called autism) is a neurological and developmental disorder that usually appears during the first three years of life. A child with autism appears to live in his or her own world, showing little interest in others, and a lack of social awareness. The focus of an autistic child is a consistent routine and includes an interest in repeating odd and peculiar behaviors. Autistic children often have problems in communication, avoid eye contact, and show limited attachment to others. It is important autistic children wear medical identification in case they wander or are separated from their parents or caregivers.
Autism can prevent a child from forming relationships with others, in part, because of an inability to interpret facial expressions or emotions. A child with autism may resist cuddling, play alone, be resistant to change, and have delayed speech development. People with autism tend to exhibit repeated body movements, such as flapping hands or rocking, and have unusual attachments to objects. However, many people with autism excel consistently on certain mental tasks, such as counting, measuring, art, music, or memory.
Each child may experience autism symptoms differently, and the symptoms of autism may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
Scientists do not know the cause of autism. Research suggests that autism is a genetic condition. It is believed that several genes are involved in the development of autism. Research studies have found a variety of abnormalities in the brain structure and chemicals in the brain, but the findings have not been consistent. One theory is the possibility that autistic disorder is a behavioral syndrome that includes several distinct conditions. However, parenting behaviors are not the cause or a contributing factor to the cause or causes of autism.
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(For individuals 17 and below)
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