Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability. People with ASD may communicate and interact in ways that are different from most other people. ASD includes what the American Psychiatric Association used to call autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. ASD is called a "spectrum" disorder because people with ASD can have a range of strengths and challenges, and need more or less support for those challenges. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some children and adults with ASD need a lot of assistance in their daily lives; others need less.
Acronyms, Terms, and Definitions
Educational policy, childhood disability advocacy, and the legislation governing both have produced terms and acronyms that might require clarification if you are new to the system. To better understand the points and tips that follow, here is a list of brief explanations and definitions.
CDC Features: Autism Research – Overview of CDC’s Study to Explore Early Development (SEED)
NIH Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) – The ACE program comprises 11 research centers and networks that focus to identify the causes of ASD and develop new and improved treatments.
Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network – CDC funded programs to determine the number of people with autism.
Centers for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE) – CDC established regional centers of excellence for autism and other developmental disabilities.
Study to Explore Early Development (SEED) – CDC-funded study to help identify risk factors that may put children at risk for developmental disabilities.
Autism Clinical Trials – National Institutes of Health ClinicalTrials.gov website that catalogs results for autism clinical trials.
HRSA: Combating Autism Act – HRSA programs that address urgent issues affecting people with autism and their families.
Understanding autism starts at a young age, and there is no greater place than the classroom to start. Understanding autism and how to interact with people with autism comes from being exposed to them, and being taught how to treat and talk to someone with autism. Children naturally want to be helpful. Give them that opportunity by encouraging them to be a buddy to someone with autism. It is up to teachers and parents to teach children about differences, acceptance, and understanding. Here are some activities published by American Autism Society that students can do: