Autism is a developmental condition affecting a patient's social interaction, behavior and their experience of and interaction with the world around them. It is one of the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), and is often confused with other conditions, such as Asperger's syndrome, due to similar or overlapping symptoms.
A lifelong condition, usually diagnosed in early childhood, symptoms of autism often include: problems developing communication skills, difficulties establishing friendships, a lack of empathy, and limited interest in activities and play. Severity of symptoms varies greatly from case-to-case and it is important to get a proper diagnosis as it can be confused with other psychological and developmental conditions.
Doctors checking for autism will conduct a variety of tests, including a hearing evaluation, an Autism Diagnostic Interview, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and autism screening. Treatment usually begins as soon as a diagnosis has been made. There is no cure, but there are many ways to alleviate the symptoms autism and make life easier for patients with the condition.
A range of therapies and treatments are available, including applied behavior analysis, physical therapy, behavioral occupational therapy and speech-language therapy.
Medication may also be prescribed to help control symptoms such as anxiety, inattention, aggression, compulsion, mood swings, insomnia and hyperactivity. Drug classes sometimes prescribed to patients with autism include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antipsychotics.