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What Is Autism?

Autism is known as a complex developmental disability. Experts believe that autism presents itself during the first three years of a person's life. The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person's communication and social interaction skills.

People with autism have issues with non-verbal communication, a wide range of social interactions, and activities that include an element of play and/or banter.

The cause of autism is not known. However, current research indicates that anything that can produce structural or functional damage in the central nervous system can also produce the syndrome of autism. Certain viruses and genetic conditions are known to be associated with autism.

In addition, in rare cases there is more than one autistic child in a family. At this point, it is believed that about 10 percent of the incidence of autism is attributable to genetic causes. It is not possible to explain specifically why your child is autistic or why you have an autistic child and your neighbor does not.

Symptoms of autism are usually noticed first by parents and other caregivers sometime during the child's first 3 years. Although autism is present at birth (congenital), signs of the disorder can be difficult to identify or diagnose during infancy.

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