This Resource Center was made possible by a grant from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's Campaign for America's Kids (CFAK).

Last updated November 2014

about

Autism Resource Center Image

Autism is a condition which is usually diagnosed before a child is three. Autistic children have delayed speech or no speech at all, problems interacting socially, limited interests and odd or repetitive behaviors. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by abnormal brain development and functioning. Many children with autism also have an intellectual disability.

Finding the right treatment plan can be challenging because every child is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses. Often parents have their child tested for hearing problems because their child does not respond to conversation or commands. They may also show strange or difficult to manage behaviors. Early detection and getting the right educational, medical, behavioral, and supportive services can improve the functioning and long-term outlook of children with autism.

Choose a topic:

 

frequently asked questions
  1. What is autism?
  2. What are early signs of autism?
  3. What are some symptoms of autism that parents and caregivers can look for?
  4. What is the difference between autism and Asperger’s disorder?
  5. Are there treatments available for autism?
  6. Are there medication treatments for autism?
  7. Why do children with autism have difficulty learning in a regular classroom setting?
  8. What is the difference between autism and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD, NOS)?

Featured Expert Response to Frequently Asked Questions
When Should a Parent Consider Medication for their Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

FAQs for Families: Autism and DSM-5

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facts for families

AACAP's Facts for Families were developed to provide concise and up-to-date information on issues that affect children, teenagers, and their families.

The Child with Autism

Asperger's Disorder

Self Injury in Adolescents

Children with an Intellectual Disability

Services in School for Children with Special Needs: What Parents Need to Know

Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part I - How Medications are Used

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video clips
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
Autism Overview
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
How is Autism Treated?
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
When is Autism Diagnosed?
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
Who Diagnoses Autism, and how is it Diagnosed?
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
Can my child grow out of Autism?
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
What should parents do if they suspect Autism?
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
How do you explain the increase in the number of children with Autism?
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
Is medication used to treat Autism?
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
What other conditions might occur with Autism?
Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
Do vaccines cause Autism?

Speaker

Robert L. Hendren, D.O.
Professor and Vice Chair
Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry
University of California, San Francisco
(May 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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clinical resources

Practice Parameters

Considered resources for experts, mental health professional and physicians, AACAP's practice parameters were developed to guide clinical decision making. They show the best treatments and the range of treatment options available to families living with childhood and adolescent mental illness.

Practice Parameters For The Assessment And Treatment Of Children, Adolescents, And Adults With Autism And Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Practice parameters for the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with mental retardation and comorbid mental disorders.

Lifelong Learning Modules

 

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research and training

The Role of Emotion Regulation in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Carla A. Mazefsky, Ph.D., John Herrington, Ph.D., Matthew Siegel, M.D., et. al.
JAACAP 2013 July;52(7) 679-688

Early Behavioral Intervention Is Associated With Normalized Brain Activity in Young Children With Autism
Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Emily J.H. Jones, Ph.D., Kristen Merkle, B.S., et. al.
JAACAP 2012 Nov;51(11) 1150-1159.

Are Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Different Manifestations of One Overarching Disorder? Cognitive and Symptom Evidence From a Clinical and Population-Based Sample
Jolanda M.J. van der Meer, M.Sc., Anoek M. Oerlemans, M.Sc., et. al.
JAACAP 2012 Nov;51(11) 1160-1172.

Research Units of Pediatric Psychopharmacology (RUPP) Autism Network Randomized Clinical Trial of Parent Training and Medication: One-Year Follow-Up
L. Eugene Arnold, M.D.,  M.Ed., Michael G. Aman, Ph.D., Xiaobai Li, Ph.D., et. al.
JAACAP 2012 Nov;51(11) 1173-1184.

Effects of Risperidone and Parent Training on Adaptive Functioning in Children With Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Serious Behavioral Problems
Lawrence Scahill, M.S.N., Ph.D., Christopher J. McDougle, M.D., et. al.
JAACAP 2012 Feb;51(2) 136-146.

Sensitivity and Specificity of Proposed DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder
James C. McPartland, Ph.D., Brian Reichow, Ph.D., Fred R. Volkmar, M.D.
JAACAP 2012 April;51(4) 363-383.

 

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books

AACAP's publications, Your Child and Your Adolescent, offer accessible, comprehensive information about the emotional development and behavior of children from infancy through the teenage years. 

 

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getting help

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder
Getting help is the most important thing that parents can do for children and adolescents with autism. Parents should try to find a mental health professional who has advanced training and experience with evaluating and treating children, adolescents, and families. It is important to find a comfortable match between your child, your family, and the mental health professional.

A child and adolescent psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and, treatment of disorders of thinking, feeling and behavior that affect children, adolescents, and their families. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have completed four years of medical school, at least three years of residency training in medicine, neurology, or general psychiatry with adults, and two years of additional training in psychiatric work with children, adolescents, and their families.

Click here to find a child and adolescent psychiatrist in your area.

Autism Resource ImageBear in mind that because of the extensive training required, there is a nationwide shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists. To learn more about other mental health professionals and places families can find help, read to Find Help For Your Child.

Autism Society of America's Source Directory
Find local providers and services for families living with autism through the Autism Society of America's (ASA) source directory.

The ASA is the nation's leading grassroots autism organization and exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism.

 

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other links

 

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