Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?

A. ASD is associated with Pervasive Developmental Disorders. To receive a diagnosis of ASD (based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, Fourth Edition – Text Revised 2000), a person must experience significant impairment (affecting daily functioning) in three areas:

  1. social interaction
  2. communication  
  3. repetitive and restrictive thoughts, interests, and/or movements 

Impairments in these areas may vary among persons with ASD, and cognitive ability may range from gifted to severely challenged. An ASD begins before the age of 3 and lasts throughout a person's life.


Q. What are some of the signs of ASDs?

A. The following are some of the signs of ASDs:

  • Little or no attempt to engage others, preferring to play/be alone
  • Difficulty understanding or responding to another’s feelings or interests
  • Avoidance of meaningful eye contact
  • Little or no response to someone communicating
  • Difficulty imitating and/or understanding modeling behavior
  • Unusual responses to sensory stimulation (smell, taste, touch, sound, sight) 
  • Difficulty with abstract concepts or symbolic play
  • Tendency to repeat words or phrases without apparent meaning
  • Display of repetitive movements, often for long periods of time
  • Difficulty expressing needs using typical words or motions
  • Difficulty with changes in routine
  • Loss of skills previously demonstrated (for instance, not saying words once used)


Q. Why must students with ASDs be taught so differently from other students?

A. Often a person with ASD may not appear “available for learning” due to the intensity of developmental/neurological challenges such as impulsivity, anxiety, motor coordination, ritualistic patterns, self-satisfying sensory needs, expressing meaningfully, among others. Based on the varying levels of autism, each student may need supports different from every other student in his/her class and may require such differentiation throughout the entire school day.