Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders that negatively impact social interaction and communication, and are often accompanied with restricted interests and behaviors. The disorder is associated with lasting problems with socializing including difficulties with social reciprocity (shared interests or conversations), difficulties with non-verbal communication, and difficulties in creating or maintaining relationships. Many youth with ASD also experience significant anxiety which can impact daily functioning.
The cause of ASD is relatively unknown with many different genes showing an influence on the development of the disorder. De novo mutations (mutation in one family member that occurs in the egg or sperm) have been implicated in the development of ASD.
ASD is associated with lasting problems with socializing and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Issues with socializing include difficulties with social reciprocity (shared interests or conversations), difficulties with non-verbal communication, and difficulties in creating or maintaining relationships. Repetitive behavior patterns include speech, motor movements, and/or the use of objects that are stereotyped and repeated. Behavior patterns for children with ASD also includes strictly following routines, resistance to change, having very strong fixations on a specific object or topic, and unusual responses to sensory stimuli (light, sound, or taste). Research suggests that almost half of children with ASD also experience significant and disruptive anxiety.
In children with ASD along with comorbid anxiety (predominantly social anxiety), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used to treat problems associated with the anxiety.