Autism is a developmental disorder wherein the normal brain development is disrupted very early in life. Autistic spectrum disorder is an umbrella term to encompass all the neurodevelopmental disorders in children. Autism impacts communication, behaviour and social relationships and approximately 67 million people worldwide are estimated to be affected by it. It is the fastest growing global disorder. In this condition, cognition skills are hampered because of altered nerve cells, although the causative factor is unknown. A combination of genetics and the environment have been found to contribute to the development of autism. Symptoms differ from one child to the other. Autistic children have varying degrees of impairment in communication and socialization, and have various behavioural problems in the form of repetitive behaviour, restricted play interests and sometimes very unusual interests.
Autism can be diagnosed in many cases by 3 years of age based on the symptoms the child shows. There is no cure for autism. But early diagnosis and early intervention with therapies does improve the long term outcome in autism. The various therapies recommended are occupational therapy, communication therapy and behavioural therapy. Medications are used to improve some of the symptoms like irritability, hyperactivity and aggressive behaviour when they do not responded to other therapies. The month of April is celebrated worldwide as Autism Awareness month with 2nd April being Autism awareness day.