What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects many areas of functioning. It is defined by difficulties with social communication and interaction skills, and the presence of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior or interest. People with ASD also have important strengths and gifts. ASD is characterized along a spectrum, meaning that there is a wide variety of ways in which autistic traits may manifest in different individuals. The first signs of ASD are often seen between the ages of 12 and 24 months, but many children may not show clear signs until much later. ASD is found in children of all racial/ethnic groups and socioeconomic backgrounds. It occurs in both boys and girls, but is more common in boys.