Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (“ASD”) are both names for a group of complex brain development disorders. Those with Autism or ASD have difficulties in social interactions, nonverbal and verbal communication, and can engage in repetitive and/or self-injurious behaviors.
Diagnoses of Autism or ASD are on the rise, now affecting 1 in 68 Americans, with a greater prevalence in males. The causes of autism aren’t precisely understood, but both genetic and environmental factors are thought to be associated with the disorder.
The use of the term ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ was formalized in 2013 with the publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual. With this update, a variety of autistic disorders were merged under one umbrella term: autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Individuals with one of these disorders are often said to be “on the Spectrum.”