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Increase in diagnoses of autism

There has been an explosion worldwide in reported cases of autism over the last ten years, which is largely reminiscent of increases in the diagnosis of schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder in the twentieth century. This has brought rise to a number of different theories as to the nature of the sudden increase.

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What is Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities

Autism refers to a spectrum of disorders, and lies somewhere under the umbrella of a greater encompassing spectrum, that of pervasive developmental disorders that involve the functioning of the brain. Autism as a term is most commonly used to refer to classical autism, towards which the texts of this page are biased. Autism once was believed to be a psychiatric disorder but is now known to be neurological, even though many of its characteristic traits appear psychological.

Typical characteristics include problems with social relationships and emotional communication, in addition to patterns of behaviour and interests that are less common in non-autistic persons (whom the autistic community sometimes refer to as "neurotypicals") and also involves a nontypical approach to sensory integration.

Typically, autism spectrum disorders appear during the first three years of life. It is estimated that it occurs in approximately 1 in every 150 individuals, and is 4 times more prevalent in males than females (source: The Autism Society of America [1] ( It is most prevalent in Caucasian males, although it occurs in every race.


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