Autism Spectrum Disorder

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013) Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is comprised of these primary characteristics:

  • Impairment in social communication and interaction. Characteristics may include the following:
    • Deficits in reciprocity
    • Deficits in nonverbal communication
    • Difficulty developing peer relationships
  • Presence of restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior. Characteristics may include the following:
    • Preoccupation with objects or topics of interest
    • Inflexibility
    • Repetitive movements or speech
    • Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory stimulation

Think of this section of the website as a way to dip your toes into the world of ASD. Understand that the field of ASD is constantly evolving and changing. No matter how our understanding of ASD changes through research though, there will remain one constant: our belief that individuals with ASD deserve our respect and support as they reach for the stars.


The Centers for Disease Control has dedicated a section of their website to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism Speaks maintains an extensive website containing everything from news, research, updates, to family support.

The Autism Society of America connects over 20,000 members through a working network of over 200 chapters in nearly every state.

ASD is currently diagnosed using the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, 5th edition (or DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

The data Interactive Autism Network (IAN) has collected contributes to both research and the direction of future studies in an effort to improve the quality of life for those with ASD.

The Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS) has joined with MAAP Services for Autism and Asperger Syndrome to create a single online resource for families and professionals, as well as individuals with ASD.

Mayo Clinic: Asperger Syndrome provides basic information regarding the definition, symptoms, and diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome.

Guides and Fact Sheets

VCU-ACE has developed a Q and A Fact Sheet on ASD which poses and answers many important questions about the complexity of the disorder. This Fact Sheet is also available in Spanish: Que es el ASD?.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke - Autism Fact Sheet answers commonly asked questions about autism.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke - Asperger Syndrome Fact Sheet answers commonly asked questions about Asperger Syndrome.

Videos and Training

ACE offers a variety of videos and trainings to meet the needs of both family members and professionals.

Autism Internet Modules (AIM) has created a large list of free, online, educational modules designed for educators, professionals, and families.

The Centers for Disease Control has developed a short video on ASD entitled, "What is Autism?"

Research and Articles

Hill, E.L. (2004). Executive dysfunction in autism. TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 8(1), 26-32.

Lane, A.E., Young, R.L., Baker, A.E.Z, & Angley, M.T. (2010). Sensory processing subtypes in autism: Association with adaptive behavior. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 112-122.

Leekam, S.R., Uljarevic, M., & Prior, M.R. (2011). Restricted and repetitive behaviors in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A review of research in the last decade. Psychological Bulletin (APA), 137(4), 562-593.