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Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that primarily affects how a person perceives and interacts with other people. The three primary characteristics of ASD include (1) impairments in social communication and social interaction, (2) a repetitive and restricted pattern of behavior, interests, or activities, and (3) these impairments are present in early childhood and restrict daily functioning.


The symptoms of ASD vary in degree and number, but some of the characteristics of ASD include:

• Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, for example, failure to initiate or respond to social interactions

• Deficits in nonverbal communication, for example, failure to maintain eye contact or change facial expressions

• Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understating relationships, for example, difficulty making friends and/or a lack of interest in making friends


Biological theories about the causes of ASD include different medical conditions such as congenital rubella and complications during pregnancy and labour. Genetic influences include parents who are older at the time of conception, as well as family history.


Pharmacological treatments such as tranquilizers and serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors are sometimes prescribed to decrease agitation.

Most attempts at treating ASD concentrate on improving communication and daily living skills and reducing problematic behaviors such as tantrums and self-injury. Other methods include naturalistic teaching strategies. This technique appears to improve a range of social communication skills in some children with more severe forms of ASD.

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