Byrd, Robert Department of Pediatrics, University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, California.
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A neurodevelopmental condition that impairs the way that a person relates to and communicates with other people. Persons with autism have difficulties with social communication and interaction. They also can have unusual behaviors, such as insistence on sameness, obsessions, or stereotypic behaviors (for example, hand flapping, spinning, and toe walking). The condition varies greatly in the presenting symptoms, the timing of presentation, the range and severity of symptoms, and its association with other conditions. Although recognition of autism is increasingly more common (Fig. 1), the cause of autism and the reason for its increase remain unknown. With intensive early intervention, significant improvements in a large percentage of children with autism can be achieved. See also: Autism and eye gaze abnormalities; Autism and the social brain; Developmental psychology; Factors related to risk of autism; Nervous system (vertebrate); Psychotherapy; Sociobiology
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