Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of neurodevelopmental conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States.

Types of Autism

Scientists and doctors know that there is not one kind of autism, but rather many subtypes, ranging in scale and scope of symptoms and severity.

Most cases of autism are influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges.

The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.

Signs and Symptoms

Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.

Signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.

For more information about autism and how it impacts families, as well as resources, we recommend visiting autismspeaks.org, as well as thompsoncenter.missouri.edu.

Please note: The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. You should not rely upon the material and information on this website as a basis for making any medical, legal or any other decisions.