Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that consists of several conditions which used to be diagnosed separately:  autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger Syndrome.  “Spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur.  People diagnosed with ASD often have problems with communication, social, and behavioral/emotional skills.

 Communication challenges and differences:   

  • Communicate differently (wide range of skill level from no speech to fluent, awkward/inappropriate speech)

Social Interaction challenges and differences:

  •  Interact differently (wide range from being not interested in others to having a variety of friendships) 

Unusual behavior/emotional challenges and differences:  

  • Different ways of learning, paying attention and reacting to things/situations
  • May repeat certain behaviors or become obsessed by items/topics
  • May thrive on routine, and experience difficulties adapting to changes in daily life activities
  • Variable in the amount of help they will need to complete everyday activities (ranging from a lot of assistance to limited assistance)

When does ASD occur?

Signs of ASD typically occur in early childhood and last throughout a person's lifetime.

How is ASD treated?

Currently, no cure is available for ASD, however, research shows that early intervention treatment can improve a child's development.

Adapted from the CDC.

If you have concerns about ASD, please immediately contact your primary care physician and/or your UW Medicine Valley Medical Center Children's Therapy therapist.

To contact Children's Therapy about autism treatment for your child, call 425.690.3513.  
Learn more about the autism spectrum diagnostic testing process.

 Autism Newsletter

Here is a five part newsletter series that cover topics from early identification to, communicating with people diagnosed with ASD. This series will offer you tons of resources and information. 

Research Opportunity

Researchers at Seattle Children's are currently recruiting infants (under 14 months) to study brain development during the first three years of life. To qualify the infant has to be under 14 months and have an older sibling that has Autism. For more information please take a look at this flyer.

Looking for Autism Resources?

Feeding and Swallowing

  • Autism Eats:  Autism Eats was started to give families with members with ASD an opportunity to enjoy restaurant meals without stress.  They sponsor many events at great restaurants around the country. 

 General Information

  • Autism Navigator:  Contains an extensive video "library" showing autism spectrum disorder and typical behaviors. More specifically, a collection of videos of toddlers with autism so you can see what autism looks like. Early detection of autism materials such as, photographs of gestures, actions that children should be learning and social communication milestone are provided on this website. All of this, along with an autism spectrum disorder video glossary, containing video clips to learn how to spot the difference between typical behaviors and early signs for autism.

  • Autism Speaks: Offers a resource and services library with information from vacations, to online support groups, to legal assistance.

  • Check out this document that celebrates the different ways of thinking and the positive features of Autism.

  • General Information about Autism Spectrum Disorder: This link shares the signs, symptoms, cause of ASD. Giving you the basic information about ASD. 

  • The Hanen Centre: Here's some general information about building communication during routine activities and play from The Hanen Centre. Additional articles can be located here.

  • Uniquely Human Podcast: This podcast is hosted by Barry Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP (speech-language pathologist with ~50 years as a researcher and international consultant for autistic individuals and their families and Dave Finch (author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "The Journal of Best Practices:  A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband", writer and creative consultant) and several special guests per podcast.

 Recreational Activities

  • Pacific Science Center: The Pacific Science Center hosts the "Exploration for All" event. A sensory friendly experience for families with children that have ASD. Once a month they open doors from 8-10 A.M. or during the evening from 6:30-8:30 P.M. for free! If you would like to view the upcoming schedule for this event please click here.



  • Autism Response Team is a line for anyone to call to find resources or ask questions related to autism. The team is trained to provide a personalized information and resources for people with autism and their families. This team is brought to you by the Autism Speaks organization.

  •  Support Groups in the greater Puget Sound area.

  • Washington Autism Alliance and Advocacy (WAAA):  This organization can help families with insurance coverage (including understanding your insurance benefits, making appeals, etc.), special education, Medicaid, etc. WAAA puts on trainings about the law and understanding of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and they also provide respite services through their Gift of Time program. Two socialization programs, Aspire Girls of Puget Sound and Friendship Matters! are put on by this organization, as well as a support group, Supporting Parents of Autism. 

  • WAA Supporting Parents of Autism (SPA): This is a support group for parents who have children on the autism spectrum. Lead by highly respected mental health counselors,these session offer support and community. Join parents virtually as they share experiences and build community. To check future dates and register, click here.

  • WAA's Renton Parents Autism Support Group: Renton parents and caregivers of children with autism are invited to meet weekly on Zoom for support, connection, resources and community. Learn from each other and experts. This parent support group is presented by Washington Autism Alliance.