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The Autism Research Team, based in Western Australia at the Telethon Kids Institute, investigates the genetic and neurobiological causes of Autism.

What are Autism Spectrum Conditions?

Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) is a group of complex neurobiological disorders that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. The disorder is characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills and social abilities, and also by repetitive behaviors. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Two milder forms of the disorder are known as Asperger's Syndrome and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified).

How common is ASC?

According to the most recent Australian statistics, 1 in 160 individuals has an ASD diagnosis. This equates to around 125,000 people with ASD in Australia, and 500,000 families directly affected by ASC.

What are the causes of ASC?

No one knows for sure. Though it's understandable to expect that a disorder as common as ASC would have a known cause, in many ways it's still quite mysterious. Recent studies suggest a strong genetic basis for ASC -- up to 20 sets of genes may play a part in its development. Genetics alone, however, can't account for all the cases, and so scientists are also looking into possible environmental origins, as well as other triggers.

Find out more at About Autism