Autism Spectrum Disorder

A variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns.

Autism Information Center

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism Information Center offers recent fact sheets, answers to frequently asked questions, overviews of the diagnosis, possible causes, and treatments, and much more.

The Autism Society of America

The Autism Society of America provides extensive helpful and supportive information about the diagnosis of autism and educating children with the disorder; descriptions of additional information available in print or by fax-on-demand; a glossary of terms and abbreviations; and referrals to local ASA chapters.

Autism Speaks

The “Be Informed” section of the Autism Speaks Web site gives background on autism spectrum disorders, including information on coping with autism, interviews with experts, and resource guides.

Exploring Autism

Funded by the National Alliance for Autism Research, Exploring Autism was created to be a genetics education tool for family members of autism patients. The site provides an overview of genetics, the history of autism, and autism and environmental factors, as well as FAQs, related links, personal accounts, and news.

First Signs

First Signs offers information on child development with particular emphasis on early screening and detection of developmental and behavioral disorders, including those on the autism spectrum.

Organization for Autism Research

One of OAR's goals is to demystify scientific research, especially as it relates to autism. "A Parent's Guide to Research" (available as a PDF) defines autism and explains the steps of scientific research in lay language, and "A Guide to the Applied Research Community" discusses government and private institutions involved in autism research. The site also posts back issues of OAR's newsletter and announcements of autism-related events for families and scientists.

Dana Articles

Examining the Causes of Autism

By: David G. Amaral, Ph.D.

(Listen to Q&A with David G. Amaral, Ph.D.)
Autism is a broad, complex, and increasingly important brain disorder. Making it especially difficult to discuss in finite, conclusive terms is the fact that there is no biological test for autism; diagnosis is based on behavior, and the only verified treatment is intensive behavior therapy. Our author examines the prenatal factors that contribute to the disorder.

Scientists Zero in on Immune Factor that Links Maternal Infection to Autism-like Signs in Mice

Immune protein IL-17A may directly influence fetal brain development.

The Brain–Gut Axis and Neuropsychiatric Disease: A Paradigm Shift

“As our understanding of the microbiome grows, we see a new opportunity for new questions and new understanding of brain disorders ranging from autism and depression,” says one researcher at the recent Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. Others agree.

Are Face-Blindness and Synesthesia Linked to Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Both perceptual conditions occur at higher rates in people with autism. Teasing out why could help explain how all our brains process such information.

Standing in His Shoes

By: Temple Grandin, Ph.D.

In Temple Grandin's review of The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, she relates her own experience living with and studying autism to better understand the mind of a remarkable 13-year-old Japanese boy with severe autism. Structured as a series of questions that a nonautistic person might ask an autistic one, Naoki's book is translated by David Mitchell (author of the novel Cloud Atlas) and his wife, Keiko Yoshida, and contains an impassioned introduction in which Mitchell discusses his experience with his own autistic child.

Study Suggests Autism-Prevention Strategy

A single day of drug treatment before birth reportedly prevents an autism-like condition in two different rodent models