Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex developmental disability. It impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others and typically appears very early on in childhood. This condition affects all children differently and to varying degrees. The behaviors unique to autism are assigned to a spectrum.
Causes & Symptoms
There is no one single cause of autism, just as there is not a single type of autism. Research indicates that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. Several genes associated with autism have been identified and family studies suggest that autism can be inherited. Researchers have also found differences in brain chemistry and function in children with autism. While the complex causes of autism aren’t completely understood, it is likely that genetic risk factors and environmental stressors combine to affect fetal brain development, resulting in ASD. More research is needed to fully answer this question.
Symptoms vary but may include:
- Communication difficulties
- Social challenges
- Repetitive behaviors
- Restricted range of interests