Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

The term "autism spectrum disorder," is called ASD. It refers to a group of conditions that involve delays in the growth of many basic life skills. (Life skills include smiling for the first time, and waving “bye-bye”.) These include:

  • Day-to-day functioning
  • How they play
  • Speaking
  • Movement
  • Behavior

These conditions are called developmental disabilities. They are first noticed in children around age two to three. This is a key time in a child’s development.

The conditions begin before three years of age. Some may show signs of a problem within the first few months of life. But, parents often do not notice a problem until the child is a toddler. They may not be walking, talking or developing like other kids of the same age.

This disorder is not preventable. Studies show early and ongoing treatment will help to improve long-term life skills and social behaviors.


Previously, you may have heard of the diagnoses Asperger's Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Autistic Disorder. These grouping of symptoms are now all part of Autism Spectrum Disorder because of their similarities. 

There are some genetic disorders that are discovered in the first two years of a child's life that may mimic symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These disorders are rare but do occur. They are not felt to be part of ASD. Be sure to see your physician if you are concerned about genetic disorders.

Children with ASD might:

  • Not point at objects to show interest or look at them when others point.
  • Avoid eye contact, not interact with others, and have difficulty relating to other people. 
  • Have difficulty understanding theirs and other's emotions.
  • Have difficulty with touch and prefer to be alone.
  • May have repetitive speech or behaviors.
  • Not do well with a change in their routine.
  • Lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using).

Helpful Documents

View and print these helpful pervasive development disorders handouts 

Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism and Vaccines
Autism: Behavioral Training and Management
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism: Support and Training for Family Members


For local help on Autism Spectrum Disorder see the:
Autism Society of Indiana

Source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Autism A.L.A.R.M. Guidelines and the Clinical Reports on Autism published by the American Academy of Pediatrics