Understanding Autism

Is the condition becoming more common?


More children than ever before have been diagnosed with autism, according to the latest government figures. Yet the condition remains mysterious. The diagnosis encompasses a wide spectrum of individuals, from people with severe mental disabilities to brilliant savants. Scientists are still searching for the causes of autism, which for most individuals with the condition probably include a complex combination of genetics and environmental factors. Whether rising autism rates simply reflect greater awareness of the condition and broadened diagnosis remains a matter of debate. Meanwhile, treatment and education of autistic children can be expensive, and many parents are fighting insurers and school systems over who pays. At the same time, a generation of autistic children is transitioning to adulthood, and families face stark choices about their ...

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