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Autism is a childhood developmental disorder that affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills.
It affects three main areas of a child's life. The first characteristic of autistic children is an impairment in their ability to communicate. The second characteristic that pediatricians observe is an impairment in the child's ability to relate to other persons. Lastly, the third characteristic is defined by particular patterns of behavior that pediatricians recognize as stereotypical of autistic children.
The frequency of autism being diagnosed has been increasing in recent years, and now, approximately one in every 100 children will exhibit symptoms of this disorder. In fact, diagnosing and treating children with autism is one of the areas of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics that is increasingly in need in the community and throughout the country.
All autistic children experience impairments in their language development. However, only a small fraction of children who are "late talkers" are subsequently diagnosed with autism. One of the challenges of seeing children who are late talkers is trying to decide which of them are actually autistic. We differentiate between these two groups.
The treatment of autism involves early intervention and supportive care for the family. Pediatricians will also recommend particular educational interventions that are known to be helpful for these children.