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

ANSWER

There are behaviors tied to ASD, like trouble making eye contact. But autism is different for every person who has it. Some people with ASD may have symptoms so mild that other people barely notice them. Others may have symptoms severe enough to have a major impact on their lives.

Some signs of autism are similar to or the same as those of other conditions. As a result, some things can be mistaken for autism. That’s a problem because using autism treatment on a person who doesn’t have the disorder probably won’t help the way it should. What's more, someone with another health issue that looks similar, like lead poisoning, may need treatments that have nothing to do with the ones for autism.

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

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What are some features of autism?

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