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Autism is a brain disorder that causes a person to have problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, obsessive or repetitive routines and interests, and impaired social interaction. In most cases, the condition initially becomes apparent in children by age three. Autism is three to four times more likely to affect boys than girls.
It is not always easy to make an autism diagnosis, and the disorder may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is masked by other conditions. Because of these difficulties, it is best to have a child evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals experienced in diagnosing this disorder. Doctors rely on a core group of behaviors that are characteristic of this condition, such as the impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others.
Although there is currently no cure for autism, symptoms may improve with treatment and with age for most children.
(Click Autism to learn more about the symptoms of this condition and to find out what treatments are available.)