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Autism-FAQ (updated April 2000)

What information do you have on autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism and its associated behaviors have been estimated to occur in as many as 1 in 500 individuals. Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle, and educational levels do not affect the chance of autism's occurrence. Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communications skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. The disorder makes it hard for them to communicate with others and relate to the outside world. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injuries behavior may be present. Persons with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects and resistance to changes in routines. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Its prevalence rate makes autism one of the most common developmental disabilities. Yet most of the public, including many professionals in the medical, educational, and vocational fields, are still unaware of how autism affects people and how they can effectively work with individuals with autism. (From Autism Society of America, www.autism-society.org)

Following are links to related ERIC Digests, minibibliographies, frequently asked questions (FAQs), Internet resources, and Internet discussion groups, as well as selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the citations.

You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:

ERIC Citations

The full text of ERIC documents (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:

  • In microfiche collections worldwide; to find your nearest ERIC Resource Collection, point your web browser to: http://ericae.net/derc.htm.
  • For a fee through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS): http://edrs.com, service@edrs.com, or 1.800.443.ERIC. (no longer available)

The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:

ERIC Search Terms Used


ED344375 EC301102
Pragmatic Analysis of the Communicative Performance in Autistic Children.
Bernard-Opitz, Vera; And Others
Aug 1991
21p.; Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (99th, San Francisco, CA, August 16-20, 1991).
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: Singapore
Journal Announcement: RIESEP92
Target Audience: Researchers
This study investigated the communicative behavior of five high-level and five low- level autistic children (ages 3-5 years). Differential responses of parents and a clinician to the children's protesting, responses, and initiations were assessed. Findings indicate differential interaction behavior and behavior problems of autistic children with their parents and a clinician. Both groups of autistic children reacted quite sensitively to different interaction partners and their communicative feedback. Low-level autistic children mainly used nonverbal protests when interacting with their parents. Parents tended to respond to appropriate communicative acts with new demands, while the clinician acknowledged the communication. Reassessment of the low-level group after 20 months of daily therapy showed a significant reduction of protests and noncompliance and an increase in parents' positive feedback.
Descriptors: *Autism; *Communication Skills; Interaction Process Analysis; *Interpersonal Communication; *Nonverbal Communication; Outcomes of Treatment; Parent Child Relationship; Preschool Children; Preschool Education; *Social Behavior
Identifiers: Impairment Severity

EJ544389 EC616170
Social Skills Training To Increase Social Interactions between Children with Autism and Their Typical Peers.
Gonzalez-Lopez, Adriana; Kamps, Debra M.
Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, v12 n1 p2-14 Spr 1997
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJOCT97
A study of 4 children with autism and 12 typical children (ages 5-8) investigated the effectiveness of a social skills program. Typical peers were provided disability information and training in behavior management strategies along with social skills training. Results showed increased frequency and duration of interactions for all children.
Descriptors: *Autism; Behavior Modification; Educational Strategies; Elementary Education; Influences; *Interpersonal Communication; *Interpersonal Competence; *Peer Relationship; *Program Effectiveness; *Skill Development
Identifiers: *Social Skills Training

EJ439391 EC602024
Changes in Cognitive and Language Functioning of Preschool Children with Autism.
Harris, Sandra L.; And Others
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, v21 n3 p281-90 Sep 1991
ISSN: 0162-3257
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJJUN92
Target Audience: Researchers; Practitioners
Preschool children with autism (n=9) and their normally developing peers (n=9) were compared before and after one school year. The autistic children had narrowed the gap after treatment--making a nearly 19-point increase in intelligence quotient and an 8-point gain in language quotient. Results support the value of a language enriched early intervention program.
Descriptors: *Autism; *Early Intervention; *Intelligence Quotient; *Language Acquisition; Language Enrichment; Outcomes of Treatment; Preschool Children; Preschool Education; *Program Effectiveness

ED360775 EC302347
Self Talk in Normal and Autistic Children.
Kerr, M. Kaye
Mar 1993
17p.; Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development (New Orleans, LA, March 25-28, 1993).
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: Canada; Manitoba
Journal Announcement: RIEJAN94
This investigation compared self-talk use in five preschool autistic children (ages 57 to 86 months) and in matched chronological age and mental age peer groups. Videotape recordings of the children during free play with and without an adult were coded for the following self-talk categories: (1) private, mastery speech; (2) stereotypic repetitions; (3) word play; (4) self-regulative speech; (5) utterances; and (6) mouthing of words. All three groups exhibited fewer instances of self-talk in the presence of adults than without an adult. The autistic children demonstrated a similar pattern of self-talk with adults as did their control peers. Autistic children showed less consistency in behaviors between the adult present and adult absent situation than did controls; this was not felt to reflect their lack of response to adults in their environment, but rather to the high production of utterances and private mastery talk when they were not with an adult.
Descriptors: Adults; *Autism; Foreign Countries; Interpersonal Relationship; Play; Preschool Children; Preschool Education; *Speech; *Speech Habits; Videotape Recordings
Identifiers: *Self Talk

EJ451589 EC604142
Improving Social Skills and Disruptive Behavior in Children with Autism through Self-Management.
Koegel, Lynn Kern; And Others
Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, v25 n2 p341-53 Sum 1992
ISSN: 0021-8855
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJFEB93
Target Audience: Researchers
This study, involving 4 children (ages 6 and 11) with autism, demonstrated that a self-management technique was effective in improving responsiveness to verbal initiations from others and in extending responsiveness to settings (community, home, and school) without the presence of a treatment provider. Concomitant reductions in disruptive behavior were also observed.
Descriptors: *Autism; *Behavior Change; Behavior Problems; Children; *Generalization; Interpersonal Communication; *Interpersonal Competence; Responses; *Self Control; Self Evaluation (Individuals); *Training Methods; Transfer of Training; Verbal Communication
Identifiers: *Self Management

ED388009 EC304364
Teaching Children with Autism: Strategies for Initiating Positive Interactions and Improving Learning Opportunities.
Koegel, Robert L., Ed.; Koegel, Lynn Kern, Ed.
1995; 236p.
ISBN: 1-55766-180-4
Available From: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., P.O. Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624 ($38).
Document Not Available from EDRS.
Language: English
Document Type: BOOK (010); COLLECTION (020); NON-CLASSROOM MATERIAL (055)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Maryland
Journal Announcement: RIEMAR96
Target Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
This book is designed to provide a conceptual and practical guide for teaching children with autism in a way that will maximize their developmental potential. The 12 chapters are: (1) "Emerging Interventions for Children with Autism: Longitudinal and Lifestyle Implications" (Robert L. Koegel and others); (2) "Communication and Language Intervention" (Lynn Kern Koegel); (3) "Overselective Responding: Description, Implications, and Intervention" (Jennifer Rosenblatt and others); (4) "Spontaneous Language Use" (Don Hawkins); (5) "Social-Communicative Skills in Higher- Functioning Children with Autism" (William D. Frea); (6) "'Teach the Individual' Model of Generalization: Autonomy through Self-Management" (Robert L. Koegel and others); (7) "Parent Education and Parenting Stress" (Douglas Moes); (8) "Social Support for Families" (Ann Leslie Albanese and others); (9) "Friendships between Children with and without Developmental Disabilities" (Christine M. Hurley-Geffner); (10) "Integrated School Placements for Children with Disabilities" (Diane Hammon Kellegrew); (11) "Parent-Professional Collaboration and the Efficacy of the IEP Process" (Michelle Wood); and (12) "A Parent-Professional Consultation Model for Functional Analysis" (Kimberly B. Mullen and William D. Frea).
Descriptors: *Autism; *Communication Skills; *Educational Strategies; Elementary Secondary Education; Inclusive Schools; Interpersonal Competence; *Intervention; Language Usage; Parent Education; Parent Role; *Parent Teacher Cooperation; Peer Relationship; Self Management; Social Integration; Social Support Groups; *Teaching Methods

EJ442902 EC602656
Development of a Continuum of Services for Children and Adults with Autism and Other Severe Behavior Disorders.
Luce, Stephen C.; And Others
Research in Developmental Disabilities, v13 n1 p9-25 1992
Special Issue: Community-Based Treatment Programs: Some Problems and Promises.
ISSN: 0891-4222
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); POSITION PAPER (120)
Journal Announcement: CIJAUG92
Target Audience: Administrators; Practitioners
Key elements of a continuum of services for individuals with autism and other severe behavior disorders are described, focusing on development of a strong central organization; funding; staff recruitment, training, supervision, and evaluation; program evaluation; outreach parent training; home-based early intervention; vocational training; intermediate care facilities; and consultation programs.
Descriptors: Adults; *Autism; *Behavior Disorders; Children; *Delivery Systems; Early Intervention; Financial Support; *Intervention; Organizational Development; Program Development; *Program Evaluation; Staff Development

ED352748 EC301678
A New Way with Autistic and Other Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders.
Miller, Arnold; Eller-Miller, Eileen
Language and Cognitive Development Center, Inc., Boston, MA. 1992
Sponsoring Agency: American Legion Child Welfare Foundation, Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.
Available From: Language and Cognitive Development Center, Inc., P.O. Box 270, 11 Wyman St., Boston (JP), MA 02130 ($3).
EDRS Price - MF01 Plus Postage. PC Not Available from EDRS.
Language: English
Document Type: PROJECT DESCRIPTION (141)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Massachusetts
Journal Announcement: RIEMAY93
This monograph describes the program of the Language and Cognitive Development Center (Massachusetts), which serves toddlers and school-aged children with autism or other pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). An introduction presents incidence figures, the program's philosophy, the program's approach to assessment, intervention with children having limited reality systems, approaches to generalization of training, dealing with behavior problems, and the program's unique approach to teaching language. Next, a discussion of cognitive-developmental systems theory examines child development in terms of the sign stage of development (0-18 months), formation and dynamics of reality systems during the sign stage, and the development of intention during the sign stage. Intervention is then considered, including the program's "Umwelt" approach to the evaluation of reality systems, correcting developmental dysfunctions, developing body schema, coping with surroundings, developing social contact, and developing communication and representation skills. The integration of skills learned in the Center into the home environment is then explained. A final discussion answers questions concerning the curriculum for school- age nonverbal or limited verbal PDD children, examines determinants of child success, and offers evidence of the program's success (48 percent of Center children have returned to the public school mainstream for all or part of their classes).
Descriptors: *Autism; Behavior Problems; Child Development; *Cognitive Development; Cognitive Restructuring; *Communication (Thought Transfer); *Early Intervention; Educational Philosophy; Elementary Education; Evaluation Methods; Generalization; *Language Acquisition; Preschool Education; Special Schools; Student Evaluation; *Theories; Transfer of Training
Identifiers: *Language and Cognitive Development Center MA

EJ392095 EC220060
Misleading Cues in the Diagnosis of Mental Retardation and Infantile Autism in the Preschool Child.
Myers, Beverly A.
Mental Retardation, v27 n2 p85-90 Apr 1989
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJNOV89
Difficulties in the differential diagnosis of mental retardation and infantile autism in the preschool child are discussed, and essential components in the assessment of preschool children with behavioral, developmental, or cognitive deviations are identified.
Descriptors: *Autism; *Clinical Diagnosis; *Evaluation Methods; *Handicap Identification; *Mental Retardation; Preschool Children; Student Evaluation

EJ431289 EC601103
Family Characteristics, Family Training, and the Progress of Young Children with Autism.
Robbins, Frank R.; And Others
Journal of Early Intervention, v15 n2 p173-84 Spr 1991
ISSN: 0885-3460
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJJAN92
This study analyzed the impact of child and family variables (such as child's functioning level, parent-child interaction, and parent and family adaptation) on the progress of 12 children (ages 2-4) with autism. Analyses showed a strong inverse relationship between mother-reported stress and child progress.
Descriptors: *Autism; *Child Development; *Family Characteristics; Knowledge Level; Mothers; Parent Child Relationship; Parenting Skills; Parents as Teachers; Preschool Children; Preschool Education; Stress Variables

EJ544427 EC616451
Brief Report: The Effects of Exercise on the Self-Stimulatory Behaviors and Positive Responding of Adolescents with Autism.
Rosenthal-Malek, Andrea; Mitchell, Stella
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, v27 n2 p193-202 Apr 1997
ISSN: 0162-3257
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJOCT97
A study investigated the effects of aerobic exercise on the self-stimulatory behaviors and academic performance of five adolescent males with autism. Results found there was a significant decrease in self-stimulatory behavior following the physical exercise. Academic performance increased after the aerobic exercise as compared to classroom performance during academic exercises.
Descriptors: *Academic Achievement; Adolescents; *Aerobics; *Autism; *Behavior Change; *Behavior Problems; *Generalization; Self Management
Identifiers: *Self Stimulation

ED409697 EC305746
Genetic and Medical Considerations of Autism: A Literature Review.
Silver, Kathi O.
1997; 41p.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: REVIEW LITERATURE (070)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Texas
Journal Announcement: RIEDEC97
This literature review, from 1990 to the present, discusses the characteristics of autism and the comorbidity of mental retardation and autism. Specific medical syndromes that complement the heterogeneity concept are described, including epilepsy, fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and Asperger syndrome. The paper presents some genetic and medical factors in the diagnosis of autism and delineates research prospects and priorities. Results of the review indicate that autism remains a complex syndrome that seems to be more clearly defined in parameters of neurobiological and neurobehavioral and psychological descriptors. The research substantiates the organic and genetic indices of autism, but finds that the differential diagnosis is still not simple and presentation of symptoms may overlap with other atypical syndromes. Co-morbidity with mental retardation and autism is found to occur in as many as 75 percent of the cases. The construct of a continuum, compendium, or spectrum of disorders is discussed, with consideration for subgroups to explain the types of autism presented in research and clinical findings. The contributions of research in the fields of neurobiology and neuropsychology, and the technical advancement in genetic research and neuroimaging are addressed.
Descriptors: Adults; *Autism; Children; *Clinical Diagnosis; Cognitive Processes; *Disability Identification; Epilepsy; *Etiology; *Genetics; Mental Retardation; Psychological Patterns; *Symptoms (Individual Disorders)
Identifiers: Aspergers Syndrome; Fragile X Syndrome; Rett Syndrome; Tuberous Sclerosis

EJ513559 EC612807
Individualized Education Programs for Students with Autism: Including Parents in the Process.
Simpson, Richard L.
Focus on Autistic Behavior, v10 n4 p11-15 Oct 1995
ISSN: 0887-1566
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); POSITION PAPER (120)
Journal Announcement: CIJMAR96
The involvement of parents in developing individualized education programs (IEPs) for their children with autism is discussed. Essential components of IEP documents are outlined, and strategies that professionals can use to promote significant family involvement are considered.
Descriptors: *Autism; Elementary Secondary Education; *Individualized Education Programs; *Parent Participation; Parent School Relationship; *Parent Teacher Cooperation

ED289278 EC201239
Guidelines To Assist Families and Professionals When Looking for Programs and Services for Children and Adults with Autism. Parts One, Two, and Three and Guidelines for the Selection of an Appropriate Educational Placement for the Student with Autism: A Checklist To Assess Service Appropriateness.
[1987; 17p.
The first set of three brochures were developed by the New Jersey Task Force on Autism. The fourth brochure was developed at the Bancroft School and New Jersey Council of Organizations and Schools for Autistic Children and Adults. For related information, see EC 201 234-238.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: U.S.; New Jersey
Journal Announcement: RIEMAY88
Target Audience: Parents
Four district brochures presenting guidelines on services for children and adults with autism have been combined to form this document. "General Guidelines for Education and Treatment of Individuals with Autism" addresses aspects of education and treatment, listing important questions about such topics as ancillary services, indivdualization, home programming, and accreditation. "Guidelines Pertaining to Adult Day Training/Workshops" examines adult day training/workshops, and touches upon such issues as the need for distinct services, individualized planning, and the philosophy of training and programming. "Guidelines Pertaining to Group Homes for Children and Adults" covers issues of community resources, individualization, staff training, and the role of the parents. In the fourth brochure, guidelines are offered for the selection of an appropriate educational placement for students with autism. Areas addressed are classroom environment and structure, student/staff ratio, teaching methods, progress evaluation, accountability, related services, and personal reactions.
Descriptors: Adults; *Autism; Elementary Secondary Education; *Group Homes; Individual Development; Parent Materials; *Program Evaluation; Psychological Needs; *School Effectiveness; Vocational Rehabilitation

Available from your local bookstore or library:

I Am Special: Introducing Children and Young People to Their Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Paul Vermeulen. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 325 Chestnut Street. Philadelphia, PA 19106. http://www.jkp.com

Autistic Thinking - This is the Title. Paul Vermeulen. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 325 Chestnut Street. Philadelphia, PA 19106. http://www.jkp.com

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