Autism is a disorder related to brain development that specifically effects communication, social skills, and repetitive behaviors. Autism can effects these areas in varying degrees – autism is often referred to as a spectrum disorder since individuals are each so unique.
Autism currently effects 1 in every 88 children in the U.S. which is a ten-fold increase within the last 40 years. Autism is 4 times more common in boys than girls.
The exact causes of autism are unknown however some genetic mutations have been have been identified to be associated with the development of autism. Some other environmental factors have also been linked to increasing the risk of autism including age of parents, illness during pregnancy, and complications during birth however these factors alone will not cause autism. Autism is typically diagnosed between 18-24 months with symptoms visible as early as 8-12 months (www.autismspeaks.org).