The term "autism" refers to a cluster of conditions appearing early in childhood. All involve severe impairments in social interaction, communication, imaginative abilities, and rigid, repetitive behaviors. To be considered an autistic disorder, some of these impairments must be manifest before the age of three.
The reference book used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM. The 2000 edition of this reference book (the Fourth Edition Text Revision known as DSM-IV-TR) places autism in a category called pervasive developmental disorders. All of these disorders are characterized by ongoing problems with mutual social interaction and communication, or the presence of strange, repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities. People diagnosed with these disorders are affected in many ways for their entire lives.
Impulse control disorders—Group of disorders characterized by impulsive behavior, such as stealing.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder—Disorder in which the affected individual has an obsession (such as a fear of contamination, or thoughts he or she doesn't like to have and can't control) and feels compelled to perform a certain act to neutralize the obsession (such as repeated hand-washing).
Phenylketonuria—(PKU) An inherited disease in which the body cannot metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine properly. If untreated, phenylketonuria can cause mental retardation.
Temporal lobe—Large lobe of each side of the brain that contains a sensory area associated with hearing.
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Whenever a doctor informs the parents that their child is suffering with Autism, the first & foremost question that is thrown over him is - How did it happen? How did my child get this disease? Well, there is no definite answer to what are the exact causes of Autism.