Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), encompasses a range of pervasive developmental disorders. These disorders vary in degree from mild forms like Asperger’s syndrome to severe impairment.
Autism is characterized by difficulties with communication and social interaction and by repetitive behavior patterns. The disorder has become very common, occurring in more than 1 percent of children. Autism is four times more likely to occur in males. Besides Asperger’s syndrome, there are several other types of ASD, including pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett’s syndrome.