Autism is a brain disorder that is associated with a range of developmental problems, mainly in communication and social interaction. The first signs of this disorder typically appear before age 3. Although treatment has improved greatly in the past few decades, autism cannot be cured. It persists throughout life.
It’s estimated that three to six of every 1,000 children have autism. A recent increase in the number of autism cases in the United States may be the result of improved diagnosis and changes in diagnostic criteria.
The disorder occurs three to four times more often in boys than in girls. The severity of symptoms is variable. Some children with autism will grow up able to live independently, while others may always need supportive living and working environments.
The cause of autism isn’t clear, and there’s no cure. But intensive, early treatment can make a difference.