Autism spectrum disorders can affect all individuals regardless of racial, ethnic, economic, and social groups. Autism spectrum disorders are more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
About 1 in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder, according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. The cause of autism spectrum disorders is still unknown, but research strongly suggests that it is caused by certain factors that affect brain development.
Autism spectrum disorders have increased tenfold in the last decade and now occur in some form in 1 in 42 boys in the United States. Autism, which is five times more common among boys than girls, usually appears during the first three years of life.
Early diagnosis, research, training, education, therapies are vital to reducing the effects of autism. Current research suspects that there is not a single cause that will ultimately be discovered, but rather a cluster of factors which include genetics, pregnancy/birth complications, viral infections, metabolic disorders, congenital anomaly syndrome (birth defects), and environmental toxins.