Autism is part of a larger group of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. Autism is a developmental disorder that emerges in early childhood with signs and symptoms appearing by the age of 18 months. People with ASD often have difficulties with social and communication skills. ASD affects each individual differently with a range of symptoms occurring at varying intensities from mild to severe. Within this range or “spectrum,” one person may have a high level of intelligence and yet not have the basic social skills required to navigate everyday life. In contrast, another person may have delayed learning of language skills and be highly dependent on others.

ASD is comprised of 3 of the 5 diagnostic disorders which make up Pervasive Developmental Disorder, or PDD. The 3 disorders are Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD NOS. The remaining 2 PDDs are Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett Syndrome and are not as prevalent as ASD.

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