Autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder)

What Is It?

Published: March, 2019

Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain. People with autism have problems communicating and interacting socially. They also may have unusual patterns of behavior, interests and activities.

Doctors use the term autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In the past, there were different kinds of autism disorders, but in 2013 the criteria for autism were updated to include all of them under a single diagnosis. The criteria for a diagnosis of autism include:

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »