The APA Let’s Talk Facts brochure series is designed to improve mental health by promoting informed factual discussion of psychiatric disorders and their treatments. They were developed for educational purposes for the general public and provide answers to commonly asked questions on mental health issues and disorders.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are a range of complex developmental disorders that can cause problems with thinking, feeling, language, and the ability to relate to others. They are neurological disorders, which means they affect the functioning of the brain. How autism disorders affect an individual and the severity of symptoms are different in each person.
Autism is usually first diagnosed in childhood. About 1 in 110 children is diagnosed with autism. Autism Spectrum Disorders are three to four times more common in boys than in girls. Autism is a lifelong disorder in most cases, though there are more and more cases of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders who eventually function independently, leading full lives. The information here focuses more on children and adolescents.