Definition and Facts about Autism

According to the ASA or the Autism Society of America, the definition of autism is, “a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.”

Autism falls under the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). Pervasive Developmental Disorders refers to impairment in different developmental areas that are caused by neurological disorders. Besides autism, four other disorders fall under this category. Autism is also considered a spectrum disorder. This implies that in different patients the condition can vary in severity and pervasiveness of symptoms. At one end of the autistic spectrum is the highly functioning Asperger syndrome and at the other end is a disorder known as Kannerian autism with severe developmental delays.

Facts about autism still remain sketchy as the exact number of children and adults suffering from autism are still not known. According to reports by the CDC or the Center of Disease Control and Prevention in the US, autism may be more common than we think. Whether this is due to the emergence of more accurate diagnostic tools or an increasing rate of the disorder is still not clear. However, what studies are sure of is that autism affects more boys than girls, with boys being almost four times more likely to be autistic, as compared to girls. Reports also indicate that nearly 1 in every 150 births results in children with some form of autism.

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Children With Disabilities. Technical report: the pediatrician's role in the diagnosis and management of autistic spectrum disorder in children. Pediatrics. 2001;107(5) . Available at:
  2. Scott M. Myers, Chris Plauché Johnson the Council on Children With Disabilities Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders Pediatrics 2007 120: 1162-1182.