Autism is a neurological disorder that causes developmental delay, including speech delays and difficulty in relating to others, maintaining eye contact and difficulty in playing with other children. Autistic people may have behavior disorders and be prone to aggressive or repetitive behaviors. A person with autism often likes to have the same routine every day and becomes frightened, withdrawn or combative if the routine is changed.
Depending on the severity of the autism, some children may be mentally handicapped, although many people with autism are intelligent and just cannot communicate and express themselves.
They often have other illnesses that co-exist with autism such as a sensory processing disorder like hyperacusis (hearing everything too loudly), immune system dysfunction and gastrointestinal disease.
Some children have a very mild type of autism in which they are intellectually normal but they feel awkward in social situations, don’t know how to have appropriate conversations and don’t enjoy playing with other children. They can struggle with school and with relationships because of these issues but otherwise lead normal lives.
Autism used to be a rare disorder, first identified in 1943 by child psychologist Leo Kanner and named Kanner Syndrome. He also referred to it as infantile autism as it occurred in infancy and often at birth.
The word autism means "escape from reality", so it was used to describe the emotional detachment that occurs in some children with the condition. Dr. Kanner gave the rate of autism as 1 in 10,000. Now, rates vary according to country but range anywhere between 1 in 40 for boys and 1 in 66 for boys and girls, to 1 in 110 children in the USA.
Cambridge University experts wrote:
"The prevalence estimates generated from the SEN register and diagnosis survey were 94 per 10 000 and 99 per 10 000 respectively ... Taken together, we estimate the prevalence to be 157 per 10 000, including previously undiagnosed cases. This study has implications for planning diagnostic, social and health services."
The CDC wrote: