What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of developmental disabilities-including classic autism, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PPD-NOS), and Asperger's Syndrome-that affect a person's ability to understand what they see, hear, and otherwise sense. It is a brain disorder that impacts communication, social interaction, and behavior. Individuals with ASD typically have difficulty understanding verbal and nonverbal communication and learning appropriate ways of relating to other people, objects, and events. No two people with ASD are the same. As its name implies, ASD is a spectrum disorder that affects individuals differently and with varying degrees of severity. Additionally, ASD is often found in combination with other disabilities.
ASD is the second most common developmental disability, following only mental retardation. ASD is more common than childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis, and multiple sclerosis combined. It is estimated that 1 out of every 88 people are born with some form of ASD.