What is Autism?

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What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

A few facts about autism:

  • About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
  • ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).
  • More children are diagnosed with autism than with AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined, however autism receives less than 5% of the reseach funding of these other childhood diseases.

Want more information, please see these recommended sites:

Autism Society of America

Autism Fact Sheet from the National Institutes of Health

Autism Speaks

Autism Research Institute

The Marcus Institute (affiliated with Emory University)

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