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What is an autism spectrum disorder?

My son has autism spectrum disorder. Will he be able to have a normal life?
An autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term used to describe several syndromes that have key overlapping features. The autism spectrum disorders which are also called pervasive developmental disorders include: 1. Classic autism (what kids with "autism" have), 2. Rett syndrome (genetic disease most common in females), 3. Asperger's syndrome (like autism, but without the speech and intellectual difficulties), 4. Childhood disintegrative disorder (which is quite rare), and 5. Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (a disorder like autism, but does not fit the criteria for any of the previous disorders). An autism spectrum disorder is not a diagnosis by itself. Thus, your son will likely need to be formally diagnosed and then placed in one of the 5 categories above. Once this is established, then it will be more clear what difficulties (if any) he will have going forward, and what treatments will be helpful. The best thing you can do for you son right now is to establish a relationship with a child psychiatrist. He needs an expert in this field to establish a firm diagnosis which will allow for treatment to begin. Only then will you and your family be able to make the right decisions for him. Good luck going forward.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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