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What is autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

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A few decades ago, most people had never heard of autism. Now, you probably hear about it regularly. Autism is short for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It's a group of neurodevelopment (or brain pathway) disorders that cause behavior and communication problems.

ASD usually shows up in early childhood. But adults can be diagnosed with it, too.

SOURCES:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Autism Spectrum Disorder Fact Sheet.” 

Autism : “Diagnosis lost: Differences between children who had and who currently have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.”

The University of Michigan: “Developmental Delay.” 

Center for Speech and Learning Disorders: “Hyperlexia.” 

Child Mind Institute: “Sensory Processing Issues Explained.” 

Mayo Clinic: “Lead Poisoning.” 

The Journal of Applied Research: “Autism and Autistic Symptoms Associated with Childhood Lead Poisoning.” 

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: “ Social Impairments in Chromosome 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS): Autism Spectrum Disorder or a Different Endophenotype?” 

Cleveland Clinic: “What Is and Isn’t Autism?” 

Naomi Steiner, MD, developmental and behavioral pediatrician, Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts.

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch on January 10, 2018

SOURCES:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Autism Spectrum Disorder Fact Sheet.” 

Autism : “Diagnosis lost: Differences between children who had and who currently have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.”

The University of Michigan: “Developmental Delay.” 

Center for Speech and Learning Disorders: “Hyperlexia.” 

Child Mind Institute: “Sensory Processing Issues Explained.” 

Mayo Clinic: “Lead Poisoning.” 

The Journal of Applied Research: “Autism and Autistic Symptoms Associated with Childhood Lead Poisoning.” 

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: “ Social Impairments in Chromosome 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS): Autism Spectrum Disorder or a Different Endophenotype?” 

Cleveland Clinic: “What Is and Isn’t Autism?” 

Naomi Steiner, MD, developmental and behavioral pediatrician, Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts.

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch on January 10, 2018

NEXT QUESTION:

Why is autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sometimes mistaken for other diseases?

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