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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Brain disorder that begins in early childhood and persists throughout adulthood; affects three crucial areas of development: communication, social interaction, and creative or imaginative play.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

About ASD

ASD includes a range of behavioral symptoms.

The two core features of ASD are:

  • Difficulty with social interactions and communication.
  • Repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities.

How common is ASD?

About one in every 68 children in the United States has ASD. It is about four times more common in boys than girls. It can affect children of all races and social classes wherever they live. Researchers are not sure what causes ASD.

No two children with ASD are alike

ASD is called a "wide-spectrum disorder" because the symptoms are different for each child. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can change as the child grows. No two children with ASD are alike. This makes understanding ASD and finding the best therapies difficult... Read more about Autism Spectrum Disorder

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Risperidone for autism spectrum disorder

Risperidone is an antipsychotic medication that has been used for symptom relief and behavioural improvement in autism. This review encompasses three randomised controlled trials and concludes that risperidone may be beneficial for various aspects of autism including irritability, repetition and hyperactivity. However, all studies were relatively small and used different ways to assess effectiveness, making comparisons difficult. In addition, side effects were identified, notably weight gain. Further studies are therefore necessary to determine the long term benefits, if any, compared with the potential risks.

Gluten and casein‐free diets for autism spectrum disorder

It has been suggested that peptides from gluten and casein may have a role in the origins of autism and that the physiology and psychology of autism might be explained by excessive opioid activity linked to these peptides.

High‐pressure oxygen therapy for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with problems in social communication and restricted behaviors. High‐pressure (hyperbaric) oxygen therapy has been proposed as treatment for these ASD symptoms. We reviewed the evidence on effects of high‐pressure (hyperbaric) oxygen therapy among children and adults with ASD. We also assessed the evidence on the safety of high‐pressure oxygen therapy.

See all (131)

Summaries for consumers

Risperidone for autism spectrum disorder

Risperidone is an antipsychotic medication that has been used for symptom relief and behavioural improvement in autism. This review encompasses three randomised controlled trials and concludes that risperidone may be beneficial for various aspects of autism including irritability, repetition and hyperactivity. However, all studies were relatively small and used different ways to assess effectiveness, making comparisons difficult. In addition, side effects were identified, notably weight gain. Further studies are therefore necessary to determine the long term benefits, if any, compared with the potential risks.

Gluten and casein‐free diets for autism spectrum disorder

It has been suggested that peptides from gluten and casein may have a role in the origins of autism and that the physiology and psychology of autism might be explained by excessive opioid activity linked to these peptides.

High‐pressure oxygen therapy for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with problems in social communication and restricted behaviors. High‐pressure (hyperbaric) oxygen therapy has been proposed as treatment for these ASD symptoms. We reviewed the evidence on effects of high‐pressure (hyperbaric) oxygen therapy among children and adults with ASD. We also assessed the evidence on the safety of high‐pressure oxygen therapy.

See all (15)

More about Autism Spectrum Disorder

Photo of a child

Also called: Autism, Autistic

See Also: Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome

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