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Autism is a complex developmental disorder of brain function. It is not a disease. It usually first appears during the first three years of life and affects a personís ability to communicate and interact with others, depending on the degree to which they have the disorder. Autism Spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of related developmental disorders, including Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. There is currently no cure for ASDs, but children can progress, and with appropriate management, they can reduce undesirable behaviors. People with autism have a normal life expectancy, but itís important that children who are diagnosed continue to receive treatment and screenings periodically. The sooner autism is identified, the sooner an intervention program can begin and the more success with keeping it under control.

Autism affects four times as many males as females, but is found all over the world in all races and social backgrounds. The severity of autism varies greatly. The most severe cases include aggressive, unusual, repetitive behaviors and sometimes self-injuries. Children with autism may have trouble talking, they may not look at you, some have no social interaction at all. These behaviors may persist over time and be very difficult for those who live with and treat or teach them. On the other hand, there are cases of people with autism who are highly functional. These mild cases are more symptomatic of a person with a learning disability. The cause of autism is not known and it lasts throughout a personís lifetime. There is a lot of ongoing research into the exact cause. It is believed that a variety of factors lead to autism and genetics seem to play a factor, also. Neurological problems and chromosomal abnormalities are also common in families with autism. There are other things that are suspected to be possible causes of autism, but have not been proven, including diet, digestive tract changes, mercury poisoning, inability to properly absorb vitamins and minerals, vaccines, viruses, and chemicals.

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding autism and vaccines. The American Academy of Pediatrics, and The Institute of Medicine agree that "no vaccine or component of any vaccine is responsible for the number of children who are currently being diagnosed with autism. They conclude that the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks."


 


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