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Autism has many definitions and different forms. For example, there is infantile autism, autism and a new form of the disorder called shadow autism. For a basic definition that is relatively simple, the 3rd edition of Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary lists the disorder as “a state of mind characterized by daydreaming, hallucinations, and disregard of external reality,” (1996: 92). For a more complete and scientific definition of autism, the following explanation is most legitimate, “autism, also called infantile autism, a severe disorder of infant psychological development, characterized chiefly by unresponsiveness to other people and by lack of communication. A defining feature of infantile autism, used in diagnosis, is that its onset is before 30 months of age. The disorder is rare, occurring in about 2 to 4 children in every 10,000. It is found in boys more often than in girls by a rate of 3 to 1. It has been found to occur in all social classes and in all parts of the world,” (Metcalf and Philips, 1996: 1).

Autism has been found to have underlying metabolic, genetic and immunological factors that severely affect the way a person communicates and relates to the world and those around them. Even though the signs are recognizable after a few months of life, it is not possible to make a complete diagnosis until the child is two or three years old. There is no single causation factor or group of factors that have been marked as the direct cause for the condition. However, there have been some ailments that cause brain damage in unborn children that have been linked as possible causative factors of autism, “genetic factors such as fragile X-chromosomes have been linked to the condition, perhaps explaining why it is more prevalent in boys. Viral infections like rubella or herpes can damage an unborn child’s brain and nervous system, as can congenital factors


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Autism. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:15, April 21, 2019, from