What is Autism? What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder–not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. 

To learn more about What is Autism? What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? vist Autism Speaks.

What are Evidence-Based Practices (EBP)?

While many interventions for autism exist, only some have been shown to be effective through scientific research. Interventions that researchers have shown to be effective are called evidence-based practices. The National Professional Development Center (NPDC) uses rigorous criteria to determine whether a practice is evidence-based. Currently, the Center has identified 27 evidence-based practices. Please note that every identified practice is not necessarily appropriate for every learner. Practices are most effective when carefully matched to a learner’s specific needs and characteristics. More information about each of these evidence-based practices can be found on the NPDC website.

Featured Resources

AIM is designed to provide high-quality information and professional development for anyone who supports, instructs, works with, or lives with someone with autism. 

VCU-ACE is a state and national leader in developing, cultivating, and disseminating knowledge to increase implementation of research-based practice needed to effectively support individuals with autism spectrum disorder to lead quality lives in their home, school, community and work.