Autism Home > Explain Autism Spectrum Disorders

What is an autism spectrum disorder? Simply explained, this term refers to a range of developmental disorders affecting:
  • Communication skills
  • Social interactions
  • Repetitive behavior patterns.
Severe disorders that are included in the spectrum are Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and -- not surprisingly -- autism disorder. These disorders can often be reliably detected by the age of three years, and in some cases as early as 18 months.
Although there are many concerns about labeling a young child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the earlier the diagnosis is made, the earlier needed interventions can begin. Medications are often prescribed as part of the treatment plan.
(For a more in-depth explanation, click Autism Spectrum Disorders.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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