What Is Autism?

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a set of complex disorders of the brain that stem from problems in early brain development.

ASD can lead to a variety of symptoms and effects, including:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Attention deficits
  • Problems with motor skills and coordination
  • Inability to communicate
  • Problems interacting with others socially
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Repetitive motions or behaviors

This condition can also lead to physical health issues, ranging from insomnia to gastrointestinal problems. Individuals who suffer from ASD are affected in varying ways. Symptoms can range widely from one autistic individual to another.

What Do We Know About ASD?

No cure exists for ASD. Various theories have been made as to its cause, although what is true for one person with autism may not be true for another. How ASD manifests varies greatly from person to person; no singular type of autism exists. Some people with autism are hindered with disabilities even as they excel in other concentrated areas such as math, the arts, science, and / or music.

Early diagnosis and treatment programs are best for helping to improve the lives of those with autism. Symptoms of the condition may begin to surface in children at two or three years of age. Certain behavioral therapies can then be introduced to produce better outcomes for these children.

How Many People Are Affected By ASD?

Currently, more than two million people in the United States are affected by ASD. Unfortunately, the number of children diagnosed with ASD has grown enormously. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that one in 88 children born in the United States is identified with the condition, which constitutes a tenfold increase over the past 40 years. No one knows why. Researchers continue to explore the cause of this condition, as well as to discover more and better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent ASD.

Learn more about how you can get involved with Avonte’s Law, a bill honoring autistic teen Avonte Oquendo and designed to protect children with autism in the United States.