Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of related disorders that affect a child’s behavior, social, and communication skills. They include pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). These PDDs are autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, and PDD-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). These conditions all have some of the same symptoms, but they differ in terms of when the symptoms start, how severe they are, and their exact nature. These conditions, along with Rett syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative disorder, make up the broad diagnosis category of PDD. The disorders are considered to be a “spectrum” because the severity of symptoms ranges from mild to moderate to severe and are an array of varied but similar entities.
Many people with ASD have unusual ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to different sensations. The thinking and learning abilities of people with ASD vary, from gifted to severely challenged.
Autism spectrum disorders are lifelong conditions with no known cure. However, autism is treatable. Children with ASD can progress developmentally and learn new skills. Some children and adults may improve so much that they no longer meet the criteria for ASD.