Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affect how an individual processes information and interprets the world. Core features of autism are persistent deficits in social interaction and communication and restricted, repetitive or stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests or activities. Each individual with ASD displays a unique combination of characteristics, ranging from mild to severe, requiring individually determined educational and treatment programming.

The first signs of autism appear in early childhood and can be detected by an experienced professional as early as 18 to 24 months of age. Early and accurate identification and intervention can change the trajectory for many children on the autism spectrum.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Autism Society of Minnesota recently conducted a survey of needs for ASD programs in the state. A summary of this survey is available below.

Professional and Family Resources

Autism Navigator, LLC presents About Autism in Toddlers--a free resource for parents and professionals interested in learning more about the early signs of ASD in young children. About Autism in Toddlers was developed by the Autism Navigator creators at the Florida State University Autism Institute. Their professional development courses have been piloted in five states and will soon be available throughout the U.S. and internationally. Autism Navigator for Early Intervention Providers and Autism Navigator for Primary Care.

The Autism Assessment Resources Manual from the Minnesota Low Incidence Projects includes a completely new section in transitioning students into adulthood, including information regarding transition assessments, resources, additional resources in the early childhood and professional development opportunities. In addition, this manual provides direct links to a variety of assessments covering the major domains of transition and resources on assessing autism in students. Note that the offsite documents linked from this guide may not be accessible.

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC)
promotes the use of evidence-based practices for children and youth with ASD, birth to 22 years of age.

Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules (AFIRM) is a free online resource designed to teach the step-by-step process of planning for, using and monitoring evidence-based practices for individuals with ASD. Supplemental materials and handouts are available for download.

Autism Internet Modules (AIM) is a free online resource designed to provide high-quality information and professional development for anyone who supports, instructs, works with or lives with someone with autism.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a framework or approach for helping schools select and organize evidence-based behavioral interventions into an integrated continuum that enhances academic and social behavior outcomes for all students.

Paraprofessional ASD Competencies: Minnesota's Para Elink provides paraprofessionals with current, research-based online training in core knowledge and specialized areas like ASD.