Autism is a developmental disability that interferes with a person's ability to communicate and socialize. In autism, the different areas of the brain fail to work together. Autism affects each person differently and to varying degrees of severity.

Children with autism may learn to talk later than other children their age, or they may not talk at all. Children with autism usually make less eye contact than other children. They often insist on sameness and routine and dislike change.

People with autism may have unusual reactions to sensations. They may have a high tolerance for pain or may be overly sensitive to sounds or touch. A hug may be painful, and soft, quiet noises may sound harsh. Certain smells and lights may be overwhelming.

While autism is a lifelong disability, symptoms may lessen as a child matures and receives treatment.

Last Updated: May 19, 2008

Author: Jeannette Curtis

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Fred Volkmar, MD - Child Psychiatry

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