About Autism

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder, autism spectrum disorder affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social-communication and behavior. Both children and adults with autism spectrum disorder often have difficulty relating to others.

In May 2013, the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) revised the definition of autism spectrum disorder to be more useful and accurate for both the medical and scientific communities. Using the DSM-5, physicians, psychologists, and multidisciplinary teams diagnose ASD based on the presence of: (1) deficits in social communication; and (2) restricted, repetitive patters of behavior, interests, or activities.

Read the Diagnostic Criteria via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Prevalence

  • In 2010, 1.3% of 4-year-old children (1 in 75) in five communities across the United States were identified as having ASD.
  • In 2012, 1.5% of 4-year-old children (1 in 66) in five communities across the United States were identified as having ASD.
  • In 2014, 1.7% of 4-year-old children (1 in 59) in six communities across the United States were identified as having ASD.

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Diagnosis

There is no medical test, such as a blood test, to diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Diagnosis can be as early as 18 months of age but is more often between 2 and 4 years and is based on observation of development and behavior.

What You Can Do

  • Visit the Centers for Disease Control for complete information regarding the process.
  • Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child.
  • If you live in one of the Florida Counties we serve (Alachua, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Lafayette, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Suwannee, Union) contact our office for resources and more information.
  • If you live elsewhere in Florida, contact your regional CARD.
  • View useful information about adult diagnoses from the AANE.