Chances are that you know someone who is directly touched, in some way, by autism. April has been designated as Autism Awareness Month, and while we are all somewhat familiar with its affects, we all have much to learn about what it's truly like to live with autism, and be around its affects everyday.

Join us this month as we learn about the struggles and the victories and hear from those who are experts from both the scientific and the everyday life sides of autism.

To get us started, below are the basics on autism, courtesy of

What is autism?

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.
ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role.

Learn more about what is thought to cause autism, how common it is and what is meant by "on the spectrum" by visiting this page on