Autism Spectrum Disorder (In Children and Adults)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Quick GuideAutism Signs, Causes, and Treatment

Autism Signs, Causes, and Treatment

How does autism impact the family?

Having a family member with autism presents emotional, social, and financial challenges. The stress placed on parents and other family members of people with autism can be influenced by a number of factors. Examples of such factors include how well the person with autism functions, how much social support the family receives, and sometimes the ethnicity of the person's parents. Siblings of children and teens with autism seem to fare better in their understanding and acceptance of the family member with autism when provided with education about their loved one's condition.

What are the different types of autism?

The group of disorders that formerly included autism, pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger's syndrome, and sometimes Rett's disorder and childhood integrative disorder are are now referred to as autism spectrum disorders. The range of these disorders varies from severely impaired individuals that were formerly described as suffering from autism to other, more high-functioning individuals who have abnormalities of social interaction but normal intelligence, who were described as having Asperger's syndrome. The ways in which autism spectrum disorders are exhibited can differ greatly. Additionally, autism can be found in association with other disorders such as mental retardation and certain medical conditions. The degree of autism can range from mild to severe. Mildly affected individuals may appear very close to normal. Severely afflicted individuals may have an extreme intellectual disability and be unable to function in almost any setting.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/5/2015

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