Autism is one of the most puzzling childhood psychiatric disorders that have been extensively researched in recent times. It is a complex neurological disorder which affects normal brain function and the development of the child's ability to communicate, to understand language, play, learn and relate to others. Despite normal physical appearance, their daily functioning is affected. The autistic symptoms are usually noticed before the age of 3 years in children, although in many cases it is noticed at a much older age. Autistic disorder is four to five times more common in boys than in girls. However, girls with this disorder have greater chances of having severe mental retardation as compared to boys.
According to the estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, about 1 in 88 children in the USA have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Not only are the present numbers alarming, but they are also progressively increasing over time. The steep increase in numbers could be attributed to several factors like the lifestyle changes, environmental/ climatic factors, changes in social structure, etc.