Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and behavior. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions and leisure or play activities. Sometimes kids with autism also have repetitive language (called echolalia); or hand flapping, twirling or rocking. Many people with autism have little or no eye contact and seem to be uninterested in relationships.
One should keep in mind, however, that autism is a spectrum disorder and it affects each individual differently and at varying degrees – this is why early diagnosis is so crucial. By learning the signs, a child may benefit from one of the many specialized interventions.
Autism is one of the five disorders that falls under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “sever and pervasive impairment in several areas of development”.
The five disorders under PDD are:
- Autistic Disorder
- Aspergers Disorder
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
- Rett’s Disorder
- PDD – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
Many professionals and parents refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).
Each of these disorders has specific diagnostic criteria which have been outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). Note: The DSMV is in the process of being updated and changes in autism diagnosis criteria are being considered. To read more about the DSM-5: The Future of Psychiatric Diagnosis, visit: www.dsm5.org.
The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) offers information about autism spectrum disorders including a definition of the disability, description of its characteristics, tips for parents and teachers, and connections to related information and organizations with special expertise.
Looking for autism resources in your area?
Click the below link for a listing of autism specific resources available in Utah.
Autism Newsletters, Handouts, & Information
As part of the Utah Parent Center’s Autism Information Resources project, a collection of autism information has been gathered.
- What is Autism? Basic Autism Information
- Utah Parent Center Autism-Specific Newsletter
- Utah Parent Center e-Journal: Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Easter Seals Autism Study
- Easter Seals Autism Study – Key Findings
Contact the Utah Parent Center for information on Utah support groups and other organizations related to autism spectrum disorders.
Autism Council of Utah
The Autism Council of Utah (ACU) is an independent council working to foster collaboration, communication, and learning among families and agencies. Our aim is to promote access to resources and responsible information for individuals of all ages who have, or are affected by autism, or related conditions. The Council will accomplish this by supporting statewide partnerships to collaborate on special projects, research, and training. Watch our video!
Autism Speaks is a national organization of autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
AASPIRE – Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education
AASPIRE has created a set of resources to help improve healthcare for adults with autism spectrum disorders. To view the Health Care Toolkit visit: www.autismandhealth.org. Resources include downloadable forms and worksheets, healthcare resources, staying healthy, your rights, autism information, computer and internet access, medical information, and personalized accommodations report.