Autism Spectrum Disorders

What are Austism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?

A group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.


  • About 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
  • ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • ASDs are almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252).
  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with an ASD with an average prevalence of about 1%.
  • About 1 in 6 children in the U.S. had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.

Three Types (Identification)

  • Autistic Disorder: Significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many have intellectual disability.
  • Asperger Syndrome: Milder symptoms of autistic disorder. May have social challenges and demonstrate unusual behaviors and/or interests. Typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder: Also knows as "atypical autism." Fewer and milder symptoms than those with Autistic Disorder. Symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.

Characteristics (Psychological & Behavioral)

  • Do not respond to their name by twelve months.
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone.
  • Delay in speech and language skills.
  • When asked a question may give an unrelated answer quite frequently.
  • Minor changes cause the child to become very upset.
  • Demonstrate obsessive interests.
  • Words and phrases are repeated over and over.
  • Flap their hands, rock their bodies, or spin in circles.

Educational Considerations

  • Predictable Daily Schedule / Routine
  • Visual and Auditory Stimulation
  • Expectations Explained Clearly
  • Alternatives to Verbal Communication
  • Direct Instruction of Social Skills
  • Consistency
  • Sensory Opportunities
  • Functional Curriculum
  • Understand the Student's Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Use Role Playing

Accommodations / Modifications

  • Extended Time
  • Preferential Seating
  • Written Study Guides
  • Allow a calculator to be used without penalty
  • Group similar problems together
  • Provide a table for reference, when necessary
  • Separate Setting

What should I do if I think my child has an ASD?

If you think your child may have an ASD, talk with your child's pediatrician. It is very important to begin an early intervention as early as possible in order to help your child reach his or her full potential. Acting early on your part can make a significant difference in your child's life!

The following websites are great resources for support, ideas and more information:

  • Autism Information and Organizations from NLM’s MedlinePlus
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Autism Information Center
  • Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
  • National Database for Autism Research