Autism, or ASD (autism spectrum disorders), is an umbrella term for a group of brain development disorders. It is a highly variable neuro-developmental disorder (2) that is first apparent during infancy and continues to progress without remission throughout the life of the affected individual. ASD includes autistic disorder, or classic autism, Rett syndrome, Asperger syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder. People with autism show signs of having difficulty with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and they show repetitive behaviors. (1) Autism affects roughly one out of every eighty-eight children in the United States, and is four to five times more likely to affect boys than girls. It affects all races and ethnicities. Two million people in the United States are diagnosed with autism, and it affects tens of millions worldwide, with government autism statistics showing an increase in autism diagnoses worldwide, although there is no solid explanation for this increase as of yet. (1) Most children suffering from autism do not have an intellectual disability, most of them scoring above a 70 on intelligence quotient tests. (4).
People suffering from Autism disease often have trouble talking and understanding language. They might have a hard time playing games or understanding rules. These people have a hard time "fitting in" socially, not knowing what to wear or how to "hang out." As they become adults they may find the routines and "rituals" of other adults without Autism to be illogical. Some adults on the lower end of the Autism spectrum can live normal lives, although most people with autism need some form of help or care throughout their lives.
Autism is thought to have a common cause at the genetic, cognitive and neural levels, although new hypotheses as to what causes autism are being developed. There is no single, known cause for ASD.