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See also Children's Health | Dyslexia | Infant care | Men's Health Pathfinders | Women's Health Pathfinders

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental condition that typically manifests before 3 years of age. The disorder is associated with impaired verbal and non-verbal communication, restricted social interactions and repetitive patterns of behaviour. The cause of autism is poorly understood but genetic and environmental factors are believed to be important. Several genetic risk factors are clearly established. Boys are at higher risk of developing autism than girls. Some clinical reviews suggest that advanced parental age, fetal growth restriction, and fetal or newborn hypoxia are associated with increased risk of developing autism.

Asperger's syndrome is placed on the continuum for pervasive developmental delay (PDD) in children, and is therefore similar to autism. However, what distinguishes Asperger's from autism are less severe symptoms and the absence of language delays. Children with autism may be aloof or uninterested in other people. Individuals with Asperger's want to fit in and have interactions with others but are ill-equipped to do so.


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