What Is Autism?

If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.

- Dr. Stephen Shore

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the National Institute of Mental Health, is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Today, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States.

Autism can present as a broad range of challenges including social skills, repetitive pattern of behavior, and special interests or activities. These challenges are sometimes due to a hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli. Autism is often accompanied by other medical issues and sensory sensitivities, as well as mental health disorders such as depression, attention issues, and anxiety.

Indicators of autism typically appear by the age of two or three, and can usually be reliably diagnosed by the age of two. In young children the diagnosis is often a two-stage process:

  • Stage 1: General developmental screening during well-child checkups.
  • Stage 2: Additional evaluation with a team of doctors and other health professionals.

Since autism is a spectrum disorder, as defined in the DSM-5, no one person with autism has the same strengths or challenges. This means that some people may need little to no support and live independently, while others may require significant support in their daily lives.

Here at AAPC Publishing (formerly known as Autism Asperger PublishingCompany), we strive to provide educators, professionals, caretakers, individuals, and family members the highest quality resources for autism spectrum and related disorders.

We have gathered a team of the most influential and most knowledgeable authors on the topic of autism to provide practical, research-based books that are affordable at the same time. Whether you are in need of strategies for behavior management, social communication, emotional regulation, self-regulation, executive function, sensory, or want to take a deep dive into the field of autism, we have you covered.

In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four distinct autism diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome