WHAT IS AUTISM
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are a group of related brain based disorders that usually appear before the age of three. While individuals with ASDs can exhibit a wide range of functional abilities, they share three areas of difficulty; social interaction, communication, and behavior. The current version of the DSM-IVTR describes five distinct Pervasive Developmental Disorders including Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. The DSM-V, due out in 2013, unites these disorders and outlines diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders are not currently known. Research is exploring genetic and environmental factors that may impact the developing fetal brain. There is no cure for Autism Spectrum Disorders, but with effective intervention, individuals with ASD make progress and develop new skills.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has launched a new audio series, entitled Sound Advice on Autism, which includes audio interviews with developmental and behavioral pediatricians, a pediatric neurologist, autism researchers and parents of children with autism. It is available online at http://www.aap.org/audio/autism.