by Polsdorfer R

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a group of conditions that affect social interactions, behavior, and communication. It is an umbrella term that includes conditions known as autistic disorder, asperger syndrome, and non-specific pervasive developmental disorders. ASD is usually found in children in the first 2 to 6 years of life. This is when they are going through periods of rapid development and growth. However, some may not be diagnosed until adulthood. ASD affects each person differently. Some are able to live and work on their own. Others may have severe intellectual disabilities or seizures.

ASD is caused by changes in how the brain and nerves develop and work. The exact cause of ASD is not known. Changes in genes passed through families is thought to be a major factor.

What are the risk factors for autism?What are the symptoms of autism?How is autism diagnosed?What are the treatments for autism?Are there screening tests for autism?How can I reduce my child's risk of autism?What questions should I ask my doctor?Where can I get more information about autism?


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Autism spectrum disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Updated March 2018. Accessed August 15, 2019.

Autism spectrum disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated July 1, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019.

Johnson CP, Myers SM, American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Children with Disabilities. Identification and evaluation of children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2007;120(5):1183-1215.

What is autism? Autism Society website. Available at: Accessed March 14, 2017.

Treatment for autism spectrum disorder. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated May 3, 2018. Accessed August 15, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2019
  • Update Date: 08/15/2019