Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability characterized by a wide range of symptoms and behaviors including insistence on sameness, deficiencies in language and social skills, heightened sensory system, repetitive behaviors, and mild to severe medical problems.  Since the mid to late 1980s, the rate of autism has increased dramatically from 1 in 2,000 to the current estimate of 1 in 88 children.

Over the past 20 years, research studies have shown autism to be a whole body problem including the immune, gastrointestinal and metabolic dysfunction.  In addition, autism is treatable for many on the spectrum; and recovery is possible for some.

The underlying causes of autism are not well-established; but recent research indicates an interaction between a genetic susceptibility and the environment. Some proposed environmental causes include:  heavy metals, pesticides, ultrasounds, and vaccines, to name a few.

Early intervention is important with respect to later prognosis.  At the present time, there are only a handful of evidence-based treatments for autism.  In addition, parents often rely on a network of other parents and parent advocacy groups to learn about additional treatments that may help their children, such as restricted diets.  More research is needed to document the effectiveness interventions that are considered beneficial by parents, clinicians, and those on the autism spectrum.

Given the large number of individuals with autism who are entering their adult years, recent efforts by the autism community have focused on living arrangement, employment, and recreation.