About Autism


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurobiological disorder that typically affects development within the first three years of life and is characterized by social-communication and behavioral deficits. Additionally, the severity of this disorder can vary greatly from one individual to another. The term “spectrum” refers to this range of social-communication and behavioral deficits. Read on for a general overview about autism spectrum disorder.

Each individual with autism has a unique set of characteristics. As the saying goes, “if you’ve met someone with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” However, most will have some level of these challenges: socializing with others, communicating verbally or non-verbally, and behaving appropriately in a variety of settings. 

Left untreated, an individual with autism may not develop effective social or communication skills. If a child or adult is not making friends, sustaining a conversation, able to play in an imaginative way, inflexible with routines and/or overly preoccupied with certain objects, it is important to learn the cause of these behaviors and obtain supports and services to help.

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Autism Facts

  • 1 in 44 children in the U.S. have ASD. (CDC – 2021)
  • In the 2017-2018 school year, 20,595 children met eligibility as a student with ASD in Michigan public schools. (MDE)
  • It is the fastest growing developmental disability in the U.S. (Autism Speaks)
  • Autism effects boys 4.2 times more often than girls (boys – 1 in 42; girls – 1 in 189). (CDC)
  • ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups. (CDC)
  • Reports indicate 40% of those with autism do not speak. (CDC)
  • Autism is a lifelong disability and those with autism live a normal life span.
  • There is not a medical test to diagnose autism, nor is there a cure at this time.
  • The symptoms of autism often can be greatly reduced with intensive early intervention; often leading to higher quality of life.
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Learn more about autism in our Signs of Autism section. Additionally, for Michigan residents, we have linked to some autism resources below.

• Center for Disease Control – Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Autism Alliance of Michigan
• Michigan Autism Program