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Autism Information

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) represents a broad group of developmental disorders characterized by impaired social interactions, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, repetitive behaviors, or severely limited activities and interests.


 

Topics:

General Information
Signs & Symptoms
Screening & Diagnosis
Treatments
Causes, Risk Factors, & Prevalence
Research & Clinical Trials
Publications
Organizations

General Information

Learn More about ASD

Signs & Symptoms

ASDs begin before the age of three and last throughout a person's life, although symptoms may improve over time. Children with an ASD may seem to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age, but then stop gaining new skills, or lose the skills they once had.

Learn more about symptoms

Screening & Diagnosis

Diagnosing ASDs can be difficult since there is no medical test – like a blood test – to diagnose the disorders. Instead, doctors must look at the child’s early development and behavior to make an assessment. 

Learn more about screening and diagnosis

Treatments

As there is no single best treatment for all types of ASDs, many different treatments are available, such as:

  • Auditory training
  • Discrete trial training
  • Vitamin therapy
  • Anti-yeast therapy
  • Facilitated communication
  • Music therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Sensory integration

Learn more about treatment

Causes, Risk Factors, & Prevalence

We do not know all causes of ASDs. However, we have learned that there may be different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental, biologic, and genetic factors.

Learn more about causes, risk factors, and prevalence

Relationship of vaccines and autism

Research & Clinical Trials

Several government agencies are involved in activities related to autism research.

 

    Publications

    • Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Publications – The Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006 (Public Law 109-416, PDF – 49KB) requires the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to develop and annually update a Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan is an advisory document to the U.S. Congress, the HHS Secretary, and the Director of NIH regarding the needs and opportunities for ASD research.
    • IACC Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Research, 2012 Update
    • Report on State Services to Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (PDF – 884 KB) – Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) ASD Services Project assess the implementation of evidence-based/promising practices through the lens of state experience. The report summarizes the current state of autism-related services in nine representative states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It describes the types of services and their sources of funding, policy, staffing, and implementation issues that must be addressed to effectively serve people with ASD.
    • Therapies for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders (PDF – 5.9 MB) – Some medical and behavioral treatments show promise for reducing certain behaviors in children with ASDs, but more research is needed to assess the potential benefits and harms, according to a new report funded by HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

    Organizations

    • Autism Organizations – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke list of autism organizations.
    • Autism websites – CDC links to other websites including those for families, financial resources for health care, assistive technology, healthcare providers, early intervention, educators, researchers, public and restricted-use data sets, and federal resources.
    • Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) – Coordinates all efforts within HHS concerning autism spectrum disorder to combat autism through research, screening, intervention, and education.

    Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
    Content last reviewed on April 6, 2011

    Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
    Content last reviewed on March 27, 2014