While most experts agree that there is a genetic component to autism, many other questions remain. To get two different medical viewpoints on the major issues, we conducted separate interviews with Paul Offit, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure” and Geri Dawson, M.D., chief medical officer of Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization.
AOL Health: How do you define autism?
Paul Offit: Autism is a problem with speech and language and communication. It’s a neurological condition probably existent from birth.
Geri Dawson: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by different areas of social interaction and communication. Individuals often have preoccupations, a restricted range of behaviors, stereotypical or ritualistic behaviors like hand flapping or are overly focused on a range of behavior.