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Autism Spectrum Disorders

Understanding Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term that covers the former diagnoses of autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

ASD is characterized by difficulty in social interactions and communication, repetitive behaviors or speech patterns, and sensory integration difficulties (making sense of what is seen, heard, smelled, touched, or tasted). ASD is a brain disorder that seems to begin during very early brain development, typically evident by the age of two or three.

ASD affects different people to different degrees. 40% of people with ASD have average to above average intellectual abilities, while about 25% are nonverbal but can learn to use alternative forms of communication. Doctors can diagnose ASD through developmental and behavioral screenings. There is no medical test to confirm ASD (such as blood or genetic testing), but medical tests may rule out other possible causes for the symptoms.

Fact Sheets and Frequently Asked Questions

  • The Center for Disease Control provides a fact sheet about ASD, including warning signs, which is also available en español
  • Autism Speaks provides both a frequently asked questions page and a fact sheet about ASD.
  • NC Health Info is an online guide to websites of quality health and medical information and local services throughout North Carolian and also en Español.

Other Resources

  • The Autism Society of North Carolina works to address areas of need and expand services for the autism community in North Carolina.
  • TEACCH is a University-based system of community regional centers that offers a set of core services along with unique demonstration programs meeting the clinical, training, and research needs of individuals with ASD, their families, and professionals across the state of North Carolina.
  • Autism Speaks is an advocacy organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatment, and cure for autism. Click here to see a list of service providers and organizations in North Carolina for children with autism.
  • The Children's Developmental Services Agencies (CDSAs) provides diagnostic testing and services such as service coordination, physical, occupational, speech therapy, and special instruction for children 0-3.

Advocacy and Social Connections

  • Oct 10 2014