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Main article: Autism

Early infantile autism, first described by Leo Kanner, is the usual pattern of neurological development in an autistic person. The person never develops the typical neurology for their age, instead developing characteristically autistic neurology. Certain autistic symptoms are present from birth, but the most obvious symptoms are only detectable at an age when a non-autistic child would start to speak. Most autistic children either never develop speech or have it significantly delayed, and in any case they communicate in a characteristically unusual manner.

The alternative to early infantile autism is regressive autism, in which neurological development superficially appears normal for the first 18 months or so and then switches to the autistic pattern. When most people think of autism in children below the age of two years, they think of early infantile autism. These two terms are actually misnomers: in both cases the child is autistic well before birth, and the difference is only in the onset of symptoms. Once a person is on the standard autistic developmental track, the distinction makes very little difference.

The term was dropped in 2005 from the APA Thesaurus and was replaced with simply autism so this is now the preferred designation.

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