Synonyms: Classical autism spectrum disorders (ASD)

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Neurology, Pediatrics

Clinical Definition

Autism is the most common condition in a complex collection of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASP). Those afflicted with this sometimes disabling and lifelong condition exhibit social, verbal and behavioral challenges.  

In Our Own Words

Autism is a collection of behavioral disorders that affects individuals differently, depending on severity of their disorders. Symptoms and signs can vary quite a bit and may not be recognized early on. Autistic children have social difficulties, verbal and nonverbal communication issues and often exhibit repetitive and obsessive behavior.

Autism is thought to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. While there is no cure for autism, there are therapies, medications and behavioral interventions available to help treat early symptoms, and early intervention helps children learn important skills. 

Relevant Conditions
  • Rett syndrome
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Common Types
  • Autistic disorder
  • Aspergers syndrome
  • Pervasive developmental disorder
Side Effects
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Avoiding eye contact and social interaction
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication problems
  • Repetitive language and motor behaviors
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. Diseases and Conditions. Cleveland Clinic Foundation 2012. Accessed July 2013.
  • Autism Society. “About Autism.” Accessed July 2013.
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Facts About ASD.” Last updated March 2012. Accessed July 2013.
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