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autistic disorder (autism)

Autism is one of a group of serious developmental problems called autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that appear in early childhood. All autism disorders affect a child's ability to communicate and interact with others.


Children with autism generally have problems with social interaction, language and behavior.


Symptoms may include:


  • Social skills:

    • failure to respond to their name
    • poor eye contact
    • appears not to hear people at times
    • resists cuddling and holding
    • appears unaware of others' feelings
    • prefer playing alone

  • Language:

    • starts talking later than other children
    • loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences
    • no eye contact when making requests
    • speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm
    • cannot start or maintain a conversation

  • Behavior

    • performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping
    • develops specific routines or rituals
    • becomes disturbed at the slightest change in routines or rituals
    • moves constantly
    • unusually sensitive to light, sound and touch

Causes may include:

  • genetic errors
  • environmental factors
  • problems during labor and delivery

Treatment may include:

  • behavior therapy
  • communication therapy
  • educational therapy
  • drug therapy
  • creative therapy
  • special chelation therapy to remove mercury from the body

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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton Hamilton. Phone: 609-586-7900 Physician Referral: 609-584-5900.

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