A disorder, thought to be caused by a brain abnormality, that leads to a lifelong inability to relate in an ordinary way to people and situations. Autism is usually diagnosed before the age of three. It is rare, aﬀecting around 20 people in every 10,000, and is three times more common in boys than in girls. The main features are a profound inability to form social relationships, delayed speech development, and a tendency to perform repeated compulsive actions or rituals. There is no cure at present, but behaviour therapy can help children to lead more normal lives.
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