Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. Autism begins in childhood. It is marked by the presence of markedly abnormal or impaired development in social interaction and communication and a markedly restricted repertoire of activity and interest. Manifestations of the disorder vary greatly depending on the developmental level and chronological age of the individual (DSM-IV). [ DDD:hvfirth ]
The term refers to the diagnosis of autism and is left for convenience. However, it is preferable to annotate the exact phenotypic abnormalities rather than merely the diagnostic category autism.