Autism is a developmental disorder caused by an injury to the brain of a variety of different types, occurring during pregnancy, birth, or early childhood, that results in problems with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. Originally deemed a psychiatric disorder, it is now appreciated as an illness caused by environmental factors that interface with various susceptible genes in which inflammation is a dominant component. It is not a genetic disease, however. Like all neurological diseases, the signs and symptoms of autism are dependent on the specific areas of the brain that are injured. Functional imaging studies, e.g. SPECT brain blood flow imaging, have demonstrated that the temporal and frontal lobes are the primary injured areas.
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