Autism — Overview, Symptoms, Treatments, and Other Resources.
Information on Autism from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Autism is the most common disorder in a group of conditions termed "autism spectrum disorders (ASD)". Approximately 1 in every 150 children will be diagnosed with and ASD. Autism symptoms and their intensity vary in each affected individual. Hallmarks of autism include: difficulty in social interactions, communication problems, and obsessive behaviors. While the cause of autism is not understood, both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. Treatment aims to modify the problematic behaviors . When treatment is begun early, many children with autism grow up to lead normal or near-normal lives...More at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke / National Institutes of Health.
Autism Information at Children's Hospital Boston
Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that usually appears during the first three years of life. A child with autism appears to live in his/her own world, showing little interest in others, and a lack of social awareness. The focus of an autistic child is a consistent routine and includes an interest in repeating odd and peculiar behaviors. Generally children with autism often have problems in communication, avoid eye contact, and show limited attachment to others...Read more at Children's Hospital Boston.
Learn about Autism at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people. ..Read more at the CDC.
Autism: Essentials from Consumer Reports
What is it? What are the symptoms? How is it diagnosed? How common is it? What will happen? Questions to ask. Key points about treatments at Consumer Reports.
Autism Facts Sheet at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are developmental disabilities characterized by difficulties with social interactions, impairment in verbal and/or nonverbal communication, and the development of repetitive, unusual, or highly-specialized interests. The pathology underlying the condition is based in the brain, although the precise disease mechanism behind ASD has yet to be described. ASDs are typically diagnosed in early childhood with functional impairment persisting throughout life. Read more at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Quiz: How much do you know about ASDs? Test your knowledge…
Take the auiz at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fact Sheet: Autism
Our knowledge of Autistic Spectrum Disorders is rapidly changing given the many researchers working in this area. The facts below are based upon current scientific understanding of Autism. Read the fact Sheet at The New England center for Children.
Video: Increase in autism
The number of children diagnosed with autism is rising. The reason for this increase may be due to increased awareness and diagnosis. View the video at Autism Speaks.
Video: What causes autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder. However, the cause of this illness is not known. Both genetic and environmental factors are likely to be required for the development of autism. View the video from Autism Speaks.
Children should be screened for autism beginning in early infancy through school-age. Pediatricians should offer routine screening at well-child visits using standard parent questioning and physical examination. During these screenings, children are assessed for motor, social, and language skills. View the National Guideline Clearinghouse major recommendations.
Treatment recommendations for autism
Autism screening should be routinely performed by primary care pediatricians. Following diagnosis, treatments aim to modify undesirable social and physical behaviors and to improve communication skills. Medications may be prescribed to treat some symptoms. View the National Guideline Clearinghouse major recommendations.
Abstract: Deficiencies interpreting emotion from facial expression continues into adulthood
Autistic individuals have difficulty recognizing subtle facial expressions that indicate emotions. A recent study finds that this trait is preserved in autistic individuals across all age groups, including adulthood. View the abstract in Pubmed.
Abstract: Communication and social skills are the best markers for mild autism
Children with high functioning forms of autism often receive diagnosis late in childhood. This is due the difficulty distinguishing mild forms of autism from other developmental disorders, such as ADHD and anxiety disorder. Communication and social interaction abilities are the most successful criteria for distinguishing between these disorders. View the abstract in Pubmed.
Abstract: Vaccines are not a primary cause of autism
Mercury is a common toxin found within our environment that can lead to significant neurological damage, especially in developing nervous systems. The most common source of mercury exposure in the general population is seafood consumption. In addition, some vaccinations contain small amounts of this metal, prompting significant public controversy over the potential role of vaccinations in the development of autism. There are no reliable data to link childhood vaccinations as a primary cause of autism. However, it cannot be excluded that vaccinations may contribute to autism in children with certain genetic susceptibilities to the disorder. Free full text available at Pubmed.
Abstract: Differences in the brains of autistic individuals
The brains of autistic individuals appear different than the brains of healthy individuals. MRI scanning has revealed changes in the volume of certain regions of the brain and dysfunctional activation in communication regions of the brain. View the abstract in Pubmed.
Abstract: Autism diagnosis affects the quality of life for the entire family
A diagnosis of autism affects the entire family of the individual. Siblings of the autistic individual, as well as parents, experience a decreased quality of life. Treatment programs should not only treat the afflicted child, but should educate the entire family in psychological and social coping mechanisms. View the abstract in Pubmed.
Abstract: Environmental contributions to autism
Autism is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors interacting together. Certain environmental factors may facilitate genetic changes that contribute to autism development. Among these potential environmental risk factors are nickel, mercury, cadmium, trichloroethylene and vinyl chloride. In addition, vitamin D deficiency may be associated with increased autism risk. View the abstract in Pubmed.
Abstract: The genetic basis of autism
Several studies in human populations have identified genetic variations that are associated with autism. Many of these genes play a role neurological function. Studies are ongoing, but the genetic basis of autism is emerging. View the abstract in Pubmed.
Abstract: Using alternative therapies to treat autism
Parents with autistic children often combine or replace conventional medical treatment with alternative therapies. Most of these alternative therapies have not been studied well enough to conclude that they are safe and/or effective. View the abstract in Pubmed.
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