Autism and Asperger syndrome are both part of a range of related developmental disorders known as autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). They begin in childhood and last through adulthood.
ASD can cause a wide range of symptoms, which are grouped into three categories:
- Problems and difficulties in social situations: including lack of understanding and awareness of other people's emotions and feelings.
- Struggling with language and communication: including delayed language development and not being able to start conversations or take part in them properly.
- Unusual thoughts and physical behaviour, including making repeated physical movements, such as hand tapping or twisting (the child develops set routines of behaviour and can get upset if the routines are broken).