Autism is a condition related to impairment of development that manifests as problems with social skills and communication. Autism can also be characterized by repetitive behaviors. A child with autism does not look any different than a typical child. Their ability to learn, think, and problem solve varies from person to person and some autistic individuals are extremely intelligent while others have severe issues that require assistance.
According to “The Economist,” in 2016 the rate of autism rose from 4.5:10000 in 1970 to 1:68 in 2016. In boys the rate was even higher, at 1:42. It is not known if this rise is due to an actual rise in the condition or due to changes in research and diagnosis.
Scientists agree that genetics play an important role in the occurrence of autism. When a sibling is autistic, the other siblings are at higher risk of also having autism. Furthermore, children with chromosomal abnormalities, such as Fragile X Syndrome or children born to women who receive valproic acid or thalidomide during pregnancy are also at higher risk of developing autism. Research supports that autism can occur before, during, and after birth. Babies born to older parents are also at higher risk of being autistic.