Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

IDEA Definition of “Autism”

Under our nation’s federal special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA 2004), all types of autism are classified under one term, “Autism”. 

Under IDEA, autism is defined as:

“a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, usually evident before age 3 that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with ASD are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected because the child has an emotional disturbance” [34 C.F.R. 300.8(c)(1)]

IMPORTANT POINT: Most practitioners and educators believe autism is a “spectrum” disorder, a group of disorders with similar features, which can range from mild to severe. Throughout this series we will refer to “autism” as “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (ASD).

Covered in this issue:

  • Overview of ASD
  • Causes of ASD
  • Prevalence and Incidence of ASD
  • Age of Onset of ASD
  • Gender Features of ASD
  • Cultural Features of ASD
  • Familial Pattern of ASD
  • Educational Implications of Students with ASD
  • Evidence Based Practice in Working with Children with ASD and Their Families
  • Research Basis for Services to Children with ASD in the Home, School, and Community

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