Print Friendly and PDF

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:

ASD is often confusing to many professionals, caregivers, and community members because of one thing: the characteristics of the disorder are expressed differently in every single individual. It should always be remembered that individuals with ASD vary widely in their abilities, interests, and strengths. This is why autism is referred to as a 'spectrum' disorder.

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 following websites provide a broad overview of ASD and provide you with information about advances in the field.

The Centers for Disease Control has dedicated a section of their website to Autism Spectrum Disorder. The CDC maintains an extensive collection of data, statistics, tracking information, and research articles. There is also a section for those just learning about ASD that covers the basics of first signs, screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

Autism Speaks maintains an extensive website containing everything from news, research, updates, to family support. They host a detailed video library explaining what the primary and secondary characteristics of ASD are and what they might look like in various children.

The Autism Society of America was founded in 1965 by a small group of parents working on a volunteer basis out of their homes. Over the last 45 years, the Society has developed into the leading source of information and referral on autism. Today, over 20,000 members are connected through a working network of over 200 chapters in nearly every state.

Because ASD is constantly evolving and changing, we must be aware of how such changes impact every aspect of ASD, including diagnosis. 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 Interactive Autism Network (IAN) began as a way to connect families and individuals with ASD and to allow them to participate in a unique online research effort. The data 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 This website provides basic information regarding the definition, symptoms, and diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. Included in this informational site are coping strategies to help those who care for and support a person with 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 This website presents a fact sheet that answers commonly asked questions about autism including what it is, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. This is a valuable resource for an introduction into autism.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke - Asperger Syndrome Fact Sheet This website presents a fact sheet that answers commonly asked questions about Asperger Syndrome including what it is, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and life in adulthood. It is a valuable resource as an introduction into Asperger Syndrome.

Videos and Training

ACE offers a variety of videos and trainings to meet the needs of both family members and professionals. Click here to learn more!

Autism Internet Modules (AIM) has created a large list of free, online, educational modules designed for educators, professionals, and families. All modules were written by experts from across the United States and include a wide variety of topics.

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.


bottom of main container