What is Autistic disorder?
While autism is highly heritable, researchers suspect both environmental and genetic factors as causes. Controversies surround other proposed environmental causes; for example, the vaccine hypotheses have been disproven. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.
Early speech or behavioral interventions can help children with autism gain self-care, social, and communication skills. Although there is no known cure, there have been reported cases of children who recovered. Not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, though some become successful.
As of 2010 the number of people affected is estimated at about 1–2 per 1,000 worldwide. It occurs four to five times more often in boys than girls. About 1.5% of children in the United States (one in 68) are diagnosed with ASD , a 30% increase from one in 88 in 2012. The number of people diagnosed has been increasing dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice and government-subsidized financial incentives for named diagnoses; the question of whether actual rates have increased is unresolved.