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According to the organization Autism Speaks, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) “are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors” (Autism Speaks). This post takes a look at the different disorders, their symptoms, and their causes.


  • Asperger’s syndrome (AS) – Asperger’s syndrome symptoms include lack of eye contact, missing social cues, and an intense interest in one particular subject. Unlike other ASDs, people with Asperger’s display normal language skills. While children with AS tend to have a large vocabulary, they may have trouble enjoying humor the way that other children do. In general AS is milder than other ASDs.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) – Individuals with PDD-NOS have a form of autism that’s more severe than AS but doesn’t display all of the characteristics of autistic disorder. In some cases, symptoms may be milder or more severe than autistic disorder. Symptoms include trouble communicating, difficulty with social situations, and resistance to routine change.
  • Autistic disorder – The term autistic disorder is an older term that includes many of the above symptoms but further along on the spectrum. Children with autism have trouble communicating with others, and they may also display stereotyped behaviors.


Researchers have been unable to determine one single cause for autism spectrum disorder. However, researchers believe that a combination of genetics and the environment contribute to the disorder. At the moment there is no link between vaccinations and the development of ASD. Yet this remains a controversial subject. Read this article to learn more about the controversy.

Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that increase a child’s risk of being affected by autism spectrum disorder.

  • Boys are more likely to be affected than girls.
  • Families that already have children with ASD are more likely to have more children with the disorder.
  • Researchers believe there may be a connection between older parents and children with ASD.


If you believe your child displays developmental delays, then it’s important to speak with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to connect you with a specialist who will help determine whether or not your child has ASD. In most cases, the specialist will have your child perform a variety of communication tests. Early diagnosis is important to treating ASD.


The treatment that your child receives will be personalized since there is no single treatment option that’s right for every individual. Treatment options typically include communication therapy, medication, and specialized education programs. Visit this link to learn more about how ASD is treated.