What is autism?

Autism (ASD – autism spectrum disorder) is a serious lifelong developmental disorder. People affected by autism need special assistance at all stages of life.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms appear within first three years of life, these are:

  • difficulties in social interaction
  • impaired eye contact and speech development
  • lack of response to name
  • excessive adherence to routines
  • fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus

What is the autism prevalence?

There is a dramatic rise in ASD cases – there are ca. 70 millions of people with autism living in the world! In Europe 1 child out of 100 has ASD (tenfold increase in last 2 decades!).

Is there a cure for autism?

There is no cure for autism. However early diagnosis and intense therapy intervension provide a child with autism with a chance for an independent life of dignity.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is general term for a group of complex disorders of brain development. The most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum–a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

The newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Manual – Fifth Edition (DSM-5), was released in May 2013, after ten years of revision, including field trials, and input from the mental health and medical communities, patients and their families and members of the public.

The diagnostic labels Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, PDD-NOS and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder that were in the previous DSM edition: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR)[4] under the heading Pervasive Developmental Disorders will no longer be used. These subcategories have been merged into the single broader diagnostic category of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A diagnosis of ASD may be considered for girls with Rett Syndrome if they present with behaviors that meet the ASD diagnostic criteria.

The domains of impairment have been reduced from three areas of impairment to two.

The social and communication domains have been collapsed to become the first domain (Social Communication) of impairment of the DSM-5. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviours, interests and activities remain in the DSM-5 and represent the second domain of impairment.


Although the causes of autism are not yet known, there is some evidence that there may be multiple causes, such as genetic factors; insults to brain development (e.g., maternal health problems during pregnancy or problems during delivery); or parents or children's exposure to toxic chemicals.

Because the etiology of autism is not clearly understood, prevention is not possible. But a significant body of evidence shows that applied behavior analysis technology can make a world of difference for people with autism, especially when treatment begins early. (PCDI)

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