spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group
of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are
characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social
interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive
behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood
disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise
specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with
intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and
attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal
disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math
Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development.
However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to
emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund
research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early
intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes.
Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in
which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role.
(Taken from http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism)