Dr. Anshu Batra is a specialist on autism at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She's also the mother of two autistic sons.
She says diagnosis of autism rests on three main developmental deficiencies—impaired language, impaired social interaction and repetitive behavior. But Dr. Batra says that because autism is a spectrum disorder, it affects everyone who has it in a different way. "You could have a very severely impacted individual with [no] language. Or, on the other spectrum, have a very high-functioning individual who has plenty of language but may not be able to use it socially, or has some odd behaviors but could go and be in a typical classroom setting."
The warning signs of autism.
According to Dr. Batra, the medical community believes autism is caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental triggers like infections, viruses or trauma at birth. While some parents claim that one of the possible triggers may be linked to childhood vaccinations, the CDC says they found no evidence to support that vaccines cause autism.