Autism is a complex brain disorder that often inhibits a person's ability to communicate, respond to surroundings, or form relationships with others. First identified more than 50 years ago, autism is typically diagnosed by the age of two or three. Autism affects people of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Few disorders are as devastating to a child and his or her family. While some people with autism are mildly affected, most people with the condition will require lifelong supervision and care and have significant language impairments. Many children with autism will never be able to tell their parents they love them.
Currently, the causes of autism are unknown and there are no specific medical treatments or cure. Physicians have no blood test or scan that can definitively diagnose the disorder. As such, the diagnosis of autism is based solely upon observations of behavior. Despite increasing national interest and high prevalence, autism research is one of the lowest funded areas of medical research by both public and private sources.
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