What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability. Children and adults with autism have differences with social communication/interaction and exhibit restrictive and/or repetitive patterns of behavior. There is a wide range of ability among people with autism. Some people with autism need significant levels of support to ensure their health and well-being while others do not. There is no known cause of autism and no singular form of assistance for autism.

People with autism have differences in the areas of social communication/interaction and restricted/repetitive behaviors. A few examples:

Social Communication/ Interaction

  • Difficulty establishing or maintaining back-and forth conversations and interactions
  • Inability to initiate an interaction
  • Difficulty with shared attention or sharing of emotions and interests with others
  • Atypical eye contact, posture, facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures, as well as an inability to understand these
  • Lack of interest in other people
  • Difficulties in pretend play
  • Engaging in age-appropriate social activities
  • Challenges adjusting to different social expectations.

Restrictive/Repetitive Behavior

  • Stereotyped or repetitive speech, motor movements or use of objects
  • Excessive adherence to routines
  • Ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior
  • Excessive resistance to change
  • Highly restricted interests that are atypical in intensity or focus
  • Hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unique interest in sensory aspects of the environment

There is no single behavior that is always present in every individual with autism.

Easterseals DC MD VA Services for ASD

We care for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at Easterseals Child Development Centers with inclusive, early childhood education and development. Easterseals Early Intervention offers occupational, speech, and physical therapy services for children diagnosed with ASD. We also support the families of children with autism with in-home respite, community respite trips, and center-based respite.

For adults with ASD, Easterseals Adult Day Services provides daily clinical care, supervision, and activities in a home-like environment as an alternative to institutionalized care. Our centers are also equipped with a selection of sensory equipment and materials designed to enhance relaxation. We effectively manage the specific need of clients through a customized approach to care in cooperation with caregivers. Staff seeks to honor and respect the voice of clients, and promote their dignity, inclusion, community, and wellness.

Additional Resources

Autism After Age 21
Autism Resources
Autism Self Advocacy Network
Autism Signs & Symptoms
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Could My Child Have Autism?
Glossary of Autism Spectrum Disorders Related Terminology