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What are some facts about autism?

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Autism spectrum disorder affects the social, communication and behavioral development of people with the condition, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Several conditions that doctors used to consider separately, such as Asperger syndrome and autistic disorder, doctors consider more broadly as part of the autism spectrum as of 2015.

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People with autism spectrum disorder may be highly gifted, or they may have compromised learning, thinking and problem-solving skills, states the CDC. People with autism spectrum disorder start to exhibit symptoms in childhood, and these symptoms generally persist throughout their lives. People with the disorder may experience several symptoms, such as having trouble relating to others, avoiding eye contact, preferring not to be held, repeating words or phrases and having trouble adapting when their routines change.

There is no test to diagnose autism spectrum disorder as of 2015, so doctors rely on studying children's behaviors and development and may be able to make diagnoses in children as young as age 2, according to the CDC. Children who have siblings with the condition are more likely to have autism spectrum disorder as are children born to older parents. There is no cure for autism spectrum disorder; however, some research indicates that children's development improves with early treatment.

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