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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
Autism (AW-tiz-um) is a complex brain disorder with varying symptoms and signs. Its origin is unclear and treatment is difficult. Some signs and symptoms include failure to establish a significant bond with caretakers and problems looking others in the eye. An autistic child never goes out of the way to share interest in anything, including accomplishments. Other signs are that the child doesn't respond emotionally when spoken to or when interacting with others. Autistic children rarely play with toys, have few interests, and may perform movements repetitively, such as head banging or arm waving. Children who are autistic are far behind other children the same age in use of language, and they don't make friends. They may have a compulsive adherence to routines and rituals. Autistic children are loners, preferring solitary pursuits. Treatment depends on various factors, including the level at which the child functions and behaves. They may need assistance from several different professionals, including a physician, psychologist, speech therapist, and teacher, both in and out of the home, in order to reach their full potential.

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