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About Autism

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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that is estimated to affect about 1 in 54 children and approximately 2% of adults. Autism affects the way a person experiences the world and can result in significant challenges in social communication and interaction, as well as repetitive behaviors and unusual or intense interests.

People on the autism spectrum often have a strong preference for routines and predictability, and some are challenged in adapting to change. Many people on the autism spectrum experience sensory differences, including high or low sensitivity to sounds, light, textures, tastes, and physical touch. Some have accompanying language and/or intellectual disabilities, and some may be intellectually gifted or possess other unique abilities, talents, or strengths.

ASD can be diagnosed at any age, but differences generally appear in the first two years of life. ASD is known as a "spectrum" condition because it encompasses a wide variation in the type, combination, and severity of disabilities, as a well as a range of unique abilities and strengths, many of which can change over the course of a person’s lifespan. The type and intensity of supports and services that a child or adult on the autism spectrum may require, ranging from minimal to intensive, will vary depending on their unique needs.

With appropriate supports and an environment that promotes inclusion, acceptance, and empowerment, people on the autism spectrum can fully participate in community life and achieve their full potential.

This page includes resources that provide general information about autism.

Websites and Programs

  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder NIMH supports research and clinical trials investigating the underlying basis of autism, new approaches to screening, effective interventions, and other topics related to ASD. This NIMH page describes signs of autism, underlying biology, diagnosis, and interventions.
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
    • The Autistic Self Advocacy Network was created by autistic people and for autistic people. This page provides an overview of typical characteristics of autism.

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