Autism & Asperger

What is Autism? What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
According to Autism Speaks® Autism Spectrum Disorder and autism are general terms used to describe a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

What are other types of disorders within the spectrum?
They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Asperger’s is a form of autism and a developmental disorder that impacts a child’s ability to communicate and socialize. Some individuals with Asperger’s syndrome find interaction with others very challenging. As in other conditions on the autism spectrum, it varies in degree.

Where did the name Asperger’s syndrome come from?
It was named after an Australian pediatrician named Hans Asperger who described the condition in 1944. Unfortunately the syndrome was not recognized as a unique disorder until much later.

At what age is a child diagnosed with ASD?
According Autism Speaks, autism appears to begin in early brain development. The most obvious signs and symptoms tend to emerge in a child between 2 and 3 years of age.

Can children with autism learn?
Some individuals with ASD excel in many areas, most notably in music, math, art and visual skills.

How common is Autism?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified that approximately 1 in 88 American children is on the autism spectrum. This is a tenfold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Better diagnosis and awareness may account for this substantial increase.

Autism is 4-5 times higher in boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed in the United States.

What are some of the signs of autism?
Some research now suggests that children as young as 1 years old can show signs of autism. The most critical thing parents and caretakers can do is look at the following list. If you have any concerns, speak to your child’s pediatrician about screening your child for Autism. Below is a list developed by Autism Speaks:

  • Your child does not show big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months or thereafter
  • No back and forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by 9 months or thereafter
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back and forth gestures such as pointing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

If you have a child with autism and you are seeking a better understanding or would like to stay current, contact the Autism Research Institute

For additional information, please contact one of the following associations:

Autism Society at  or call 1-800-328-8476.

National Autism Association at or call 1-877-622-2884.

FACES Autism Support Network at or call 1-609-412-3750.

Asperger Syndrome Education Network, Inc. at or call 1-732-321-0880.