Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from others. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less. (1)
Autism usually presents itself during the first three years of a person's life (2). A specific cause is unknown; there may be many factors involved, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors. (1) The spectrum has a wide range. People who are “on the spectrum” could have very different abilities and experiences. Some people with ASD also have special skills in specific areas like math, music, or art. (4)
Although people with autism may share a common cluster of traits, each person is unique, and his or her life course is highly variable. Each person's traits vary in number and intensity, and their expression may vary at different developmental stages or in different environments. (5)
A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder. (1)
CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early program provides parents, childcare professionals, and healthcare providers free resources, in English and Spanish, for monitoring children’s development. The program offers parent-friendly, research-based milestone checklists for children as young as 2 months of age. CDC’s Milestone Tracker Mobile App can help parents track their child’s development and share the information with their healthcare providers. For more information visit www.cdc.gov/ActEarly. (3)
The mission of Autism Alliance of Northeastern NY is to empower individuals and families touched by autism spectrum disorders through support and education. People with ASD deserve our respect and support. It is our firm belief that with the right supports, accommodations, and proper education, people with autism can live fulfilling and productive lives.
Sixth grader Jack Lebersfeld explains Asperger's Syndrome to his classmates.