The Solitary Mammal and Autism

Autism is defined as a neural disorder characterized by poor social interaction, problems in verbal and non-verbal communication, and restrictive, repetitive behaviour.   A formal diagnosis of autism requires the symptoms to be seen in children before the age of three and for the symptoms to be severe enough to disrupt the child's normal development.   Autistic behaviour can fall on a spectrum ranging from mild social impairment to more severe forms with gross impairments in cognitive and social functioning. 

Despite controversies raised over vaccination and other presumed environmental factors, research has shown autism to have a strong genetic component although the genetics of autism have not been clearly established.   While the current prevalence of autism is 1-2 per 1000 births worldwide, the rise in diagnosed cases of autism over the past four decades has sparked renewed concern.   Whether these new autism cases are due to increased awareness of autism symptoms or an actual increase in children with autism, understanding why autism occurs seems more critical than ever.

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.


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