According to the Mayo Clinic, autism is a neurodevelopment disorder that is part to a group of developmental problems called autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Autism affects a child’s ability to socially interact and communicate. Overt symptoms surfacing 6 months after infancy commonly become more established by the age of three.

Symptoms of autism include:

  • Impairments in social interaction
  • Impairments in communication
  • Repetitive movement (head rolling, body rocking, hand flapping, making sounds)
  • Ritualistic behavior
  • Resistance to change
  • Self-injury (hand biting, head banging, skin picking, eye poking)

Compulsive behavior such as arranging objects in stacks or lines The contributing causes of autism may include:

  • Environmental factors – research is being done on links between viral infections and air pollutants
  • Genetic problems – increase susceptibility, may affect brain development and brain cell communicaton

Risk factors that contribute to autistic behavior include:

  • Boys are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop autism than girls
  • Family history
  • Having other disorders – fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Tourette syndrome and epilespy
  • Parents age – having a father (40 or older), research still being done on mother’s ages