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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes a group of developmental disorders that affect communication, social interactions, and behavior. The condition starts in early childhood and continues throughout life. Children usually do not outgrow ASD.
ASD affects each child differently. Some children with ASD have above-average intelligence. Others have severe intellectual disabilities. Some children can do most activities or learn to do them. Others require a lot of assistance.
The exact cause of this condition is not known. Most experts believe that ASD is caused by genes that are passed down through families.
Your child's health care providers will assess his or her behavior and development. The health care team will determine whether your child has level 1, level 2, or level 3 ASD based on the amount of support that your child requires. Each level has specific criteria for diagnosis.
Sometimes, medicines are prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, seizures, or certain behavioral problems. Training and support for you and other family members may also be a part of your child's treatment program. You and your child may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy to help deal with anxiety or depression.
In the U.S., the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees your child support at school. A teacher who specializes in working with students who have ASD will develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with you for your child.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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