Autism FAQ

What is autism?

Autism is the term for any of a group of complex disorders of brain development, including Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

What is ASD?

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is the general term for a range of developmental disorders (each of which is known popularly as “autism”) characterized by social, verbal, and nonverbal difficulties.  Between 60 and 70 percent of those afflicted with an autism disorder are unable to communicate verbally;  90% of this group are boys.  Ongoing research is examining the 30 percent of ASD patients who do have verbal skills.

Is there a cure—or effective help—for people with ASD?

While there is no cure, we are fast discovering ways to help people with ASD transform their lives. Studies have shown that many nonverbal persons with ASD understand everything that is communicated to them, but they are unable to respond verbally.  Recent studies indicate that many nonverbal persons with ASD have high IQs; many of them have learned to communicate—some for the first time—with the help of iPads.

How can iPads help people with ASD?

A large and growing body of anecdotal evidence shows that training people with ASD to use iPads can transform their lives by enhancing their communication skills.  Over 700 apps have already been developed to help individuals with ASD to communicate and to manage their daily lives.  Because early intervention is considered critical to achieving maximum progress in communication skills, most of these apps have focused on children rather than adults.  As an example of how such an app may work, an app screen may show a child’s kitchen at home.  By tapping the image of the refrigerator, the child is able to express his hunger.   Another benefit of the iPad is that it is small and lightweight, unlike earlier, heavy devices that stigmatized ASD children among their classmates.

How many people have ASD?

It has been estimated that one in 50 children have some form of autism. The ratio increases among boys.

How many of these children are nonverbal?

From 60 to 70 percent of all children with ASD are nonverbal; that is, they are unable to communicate verbally.