Autism is a complex condition affecting the functioning of the brain. Precise definitions are hard to come by because the symptoms can vary greatly in number and severity, but persons with autism generally have difficulties with communication and social relationships.
Most researchers now talk about Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) as an overarching term that covers a wide variety of conditions along an “autism spectrum.” Some talk in rather negative terms about autism being a “mindblindness” whereas many high functioning persons with autism view their brain as simply functioning differently, more holistically in pictures rather than in a linear sequential fashion.
Although regarded in the past as a mental illness, autism is generally classified as a developmental disability since it shows up in early childhood. There are a number of conditions along the autism spectrum that are more precisely named. Among those are Asperger’s syndrome, Angelman’s syndrome, and fragile X syndrome.
This page lists some of the major general autism sites as well as sites that have extensive lists to other web resources on autism.
The Autism Medical page focuses on medical resources and the latest research.
Finally, a legacy section (not yet ported over to the new site scheme, sorry!) is devoted to Temple Grandin, a Colorado animal control specialist, who has given the world the best glimpse of autism from the inside.
Persons with autism may also develop a mental illness in their later developmental years (often called a “dual diagnosis”).
A site run by parents of a child with autism that is teeming with links on all aspects of autism. Updated daily, its goal is “to provide parents, particularly those with newly diagnosed kids, a good source of information” with the belief “that there are many treatments and therapies available and all have helped some kids.”
The Secrets of Autism
This Time magazine cover story and related articles from April 29, 2002 contains a helpful overview of the latest thinking on autism.
Autism Society of America
Autism Society of America (ASA) is a chapter and member-based organization and a leading voice and resource of the entire Autism community in education, advocacy, services, research and support. ASA is committed to meaningful participation and self-determination in all aspects of life for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
The Center for the Study of Autism – (CSA)
Provides information about autism to parents and professionals, and conducts research in collaboration with the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, California on the efficacy of various therapeutic interventions. Site includes materials in Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish. See also a related set of links.
Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS)
Asperger Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder named for a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger. Asperger Syndrome is sometimes considered the same as High Functioning Autism or as a “Nonverbal Learning Disability.” This website gives a wealth of information on Asperger’s.
The website of Indiana Resource Center for Autism (IRCA), part of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community from Indiana University.