What is Autism?
IDEA specifically defines “autism” as follows:
.....a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Other characteristics often associated with autism are engaging in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term autism does not apply if the child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance, as defined in IDEA.

A child who shows the characteristics of autism after age 3 could be diagnosed as having autism if the criteria above are satisfied. [34 CFR §300.8(c)(1)]

There are five disorders classified under the umbrella category officially known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders, or PDD. As shown below, these are:

  • autism;
  • Asperger syndrome;
  • Rett syndrome;
  • childhood disintegrative disorder; and
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (often referred to as PDD-NOS).
Each of the disorders on the autism spectrum is a neurological disorder that affects a child’s ability to communicate, understand language, play, and relate to others. They share some or all of the following characteristics, which can vary from mild to severe:
  • Communication problems (for example, with the use
    or comprehension of language);
  • Difficulty relating to people, things, and events;
  • Playing with toys and objects in unusual ways;
  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine or to familiar surroundings; and
  • Repetitive body movements or behaviors.
According to the 2000 edition of the DSM-IV, a diagnosis of autistic disorder (or “classic” autism) is made when a child displays 6 or more of 12 symptoms across three major areas:
  • social interaction (such as the inability to establish or maintain relationships with peers appropriate to the level of the child’s development),
  • communication (such as the absence of language or delays in its development), and
  • behavior (such as repetitive preoccupation with one or more areas of interest in a way that is abnormal in its intensity or focus).
Some resources for more information dealing with Autism are listed below:

Books for Children and Parents:

Rules by Cynthia Lord

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by mark haddon (this weblink will take you to a listing of books on autism)

Books for Teens/Parents/Caregivers/Teachers:

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Daniel isn’t Talking by Marti Leimbach

Look me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive by Sally Oxonaff, Geraldine Dawson & James McPartland, Guilford Press.

No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior by Jed Baker, Ph. D.

The Incredible 5-Point Scale: Assisting students with autism spectrum disorders in understanding social interactions and controlling their emotional responses by Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis.

Engaging Autism: The Floortime Approach to Helping Children Relate, Communicate and Think,
by Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. and Serena Wieder, Ph.d. (2006), PerseusBooks.

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children, by Ross. W. Greene, Harper Collins Publishing.

The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations, by Brenda Smith Myles, Melissa L. Trautman, and Ronda L. Schelvan, Autism Asperger Publishing.

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Quill Publishing.

Incorporating Social Goals in the Classroom: A Guide for Teachers and Parents of Children with High-Functioning Autism & Asperger Syndrome,
by Rebecca A. Moyles & Susan J. Moreno, Jessica Kingsley Publishing.

Visual Strategies for Improving Communication,
by Linda A. Hodgdon, Quirk Roberts, Publishing.

Social Skills Training for Children and Adolexcents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communication Problems, by Jed Baker, Autism Asperger Publishing

Websites: (there are many, below is a brief list)

Kelberman Center – is an affiliate of UCP and has an office in Utica and Morrisville. They are dedicated to providing autism services across the lifespan. Their website -

CASD - Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders:

The Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD) was established in fall 2007 and is affiliated with Binghamton University. The CASD is dedicated to disseminating information to educators, community professionals, and other service providers regarding evidence-based practices to improve services provided to children with autism spectrum disorders and their families.

Autism Society - Improving the Lives of All Affected by Autism:


Autism Speaks -

Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Their longtime friend Bernie Marcus donated $25 million to help financially launch the organization. Since then, Autism Speaks has grown into the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders -

Fact sheets, additional resources and links are on this site

CDC – Centers for Disease control and prevention:

Additional websites include:


Videos/TV shows/movies with characters who present as individuals on the ASD spectrum:

HBO special movie on Temple Grandin- (Temple Grandin - Doctor of Animal Science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestock industry in animal behavior.

Bones – (tv series) character, Temperance “Bones” Brenan

Fringe – (tv series) character, Astrid Farnsworth

Big Bang Theory (tv series) - character, Sheldon Cooper and Amy Fowler (girlfriend)

Boston Legal (tv series) – character, Jerry Espenson

Parenthood (tv series) – character, Max (son)

Grey’s Anatomy (tv series) – character, Mary McDonnell

There are a number of Youtube videos about Aspergers/Autism.

One is ‘Asperger’s Syndrome Documentary’ -

A teen with autism tries to explain what autism is like -