Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears in the first three years of life. Autism is the third most common developmental disability in the U.S. affecting an estimated 400,000 people. It occurs in approximately 1 of every 50 individuals and is four times more prevalent in boys than girls.

Autism is a spectrum disorder. In the autistic child, communications and social interactions are severely impaired. Unable to learn from the natural environment as most children do, the child with autism generally shows little interest in the world or people around him. Some children with autism acquire advanced skills, but most exhibit a wide range of behavioral problems. In reality, autism affects the way a person comprehends, communicates and relates to others.

Autism was originally thought to be primarily a psychiatric condition. However, further investigation showed that genetic and environmental factors are implicated in the pathogenesis of autism. The effects of environmental factors such as infections and toxic chemicals on gene expression result in biochemical, immunological and neurological disorders found in children with autism.

  • 1 in 50 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • 1 in 31 boys ( 5 times more common in boys than girls)
  • 1 in 252 girls
  • Reported in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a complex set of neurological disorders that severely impair social, communicative and cognitive functions.
  • Individuals with ASD may have cognitive impairments, though some have typical or above average IQs.
  • Typical ASD behaviors include stereotyped actions (hand flapping, body rocking), insistence on sameness, resistance to change and, in some cases, aggression or self-injury.
  • Between 30-50% of people with autism have seizures.
  • The cost of providing care for a person with autism in the U.S. is an estimated $1.4 million over their lifetime, according to a study funded by advocacy group Autism Speaks.
  • For those with autism who are impacted with intellectual disabilities (with an IQ of 70 or less) — nearly half of the autistic population — the cost jumps to $2.3 million.
  • On average autism costs a family $60,000 a year

If You are Concerned – Learn the Signs Act Early
NIMH Parent’s Guide to Autism
Living with Autism
Welcome to the Autistic Community

 This is what autism looks like in toddlers 


learn-support-centers-12-7-14Support Centers

Links to Support Centers throughout Massachusetts.

learn-dsm-v-criteriaDSM-V Criteria

The full text of the DSM-V criteria.