According to recent reports, autism diagnoses are on the rise. that doesn’t necessarily mean the condition is getting more prevalent, however. It is likely that more parents of autistic children are recognizing the syndrome, and particularly milder forms of it, than previously, and are more apt to have their children diagnosed.
Autism typically manifests before the autistic individual turns three. It causes a deficit in social and communication skills, such as appropriate social interactions and responses to stimuli such as sound and touch. Autistic people, particularly children, have a strong need for routine and are frequently observed to engage in repetitive movements.
Although it is not something people outgrow, autism is associated with normal to high intelligence and except in the severest cases adults and older children are often able to learn and explain coping and compensating mechanisms. Autism is not the inability to learn social skills; rather, it is the need to do so, and while those skills do not come as easily to autistic people as to people without autism, they can usually be acquired with effort to a certain degree.
The course of the condition is not fully understood. About ten percent of children initially diagnosed with severe autism are able to become high-functioning, in many cases as a result of the right kind of therapy and adult interactions between diagnosis and around age eight.