Autism 101

children holding hands

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. Often people with ASD do not have physical features that set them apart from others, but they may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. 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 and others need less assistance.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that in the past were separately diagnosed: autism disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. All of these conditions are now called Autism Spectrum Disorder.