Diagnostic critera for Autism Spectrum Disorder from the DSM V includes:
“Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following, currently or by history.”
“Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.”
“Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging, for example, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures; to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.”
“Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understand relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers.”
According to the current DSM V, Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Individuals who have marked deficits in social communication, but whose symptoms do not otherwise meet criteria for autism spectrum disorder, should be evaluated for social (pragmatic) communication disorder.
Because the disorders are a spectrum, the symptoms and characteristics can present in a variety of combinations from mild to severe, and in any combination. This means that two children with the same diagnosis can have varying skills and act very differently from each other. Children with autistic disorders typically have little to no verbal communication, repetitive behaviors are common, and there is often a diagnosis of intellectual disability. Children diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome are often verbal and possess normal to above normal intelligence levels; however there is often a significant lack of social interaction skills and a presence of repetitive behaviors. Children diagnosed with PDD-NOS have autistic tendencies but do not meet the complete diagnosis criteria for Autism.
Autism Support Centers in Massachusetts
- The Autism Alliance of MetroWest – Serves: Metrowest Region
1881 Worcester Road, Suite 100A
Framingham, MA 01701
- Autism Resource Central – Serves Central Region
712 Plantation St.
Worcester, MA 01605
- Autism Support Center (ASC) – Serves: Northeast Region
c/o Northeast Arc
6 Southside Road
Danvers, MA 01923
Toll Free: 800-7AUTISM (728-8476)
- Community Autism Resources (CAR) – Serves: Southeastern Region
33 James Reynolds Road, Unit C
Swansea, MA 02777
- Autism Connectons Pathlight– Serves: Western Region
116 Pleasant Street, Suite 366
Easthampton, MA 01027
- Family Autism Center – Serves Northfolk County/ South West Region
789 Clapboardtree Street
Westwood, MA 02090
Phone: 781-762-4001×310 Brian Clark, Director Family Autism Center
- TILL Autism Support Center – Serves Greater Boston Region
20 Eastbrook Road, Suite 201
Dedham, MA 02026-2056
Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM)
AFAM formed in 2004 to address the need for public advocacy on behalf of individuals, families and professionals who have or deal with people of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Association for Autism and Neurodiversity (AANE)
Association for Autism and Neurodiversity (AANE)’s mission is to foster awareness, respect, acceptance, and support for individuals with AS and related conditions and their families.
What to Do When Your Child is Diagnosed with Autism
Exceptional Lives offers this guide for families.
Hopewell Autism Consortium
The Autism Consortium catalyzes rapid advances in understanding of autism by fostering collaboration among families, researchers, clinicians, and donors. Autism Consortium’s mission is to improve the care of children and families affected by autism and other neurological disorders.
Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism
The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism is dedicated to increasing the awareness of autism and the unique challenges of families by helping them find the resources they need and by funding advocacy programs as well as educational, therapeutic and recreational opportunities.
Massachusetts Division of Autism Resources for Families
The Autism Division of the Department of Developmental Services provides community based supports to children up to age eighteen and information and referral information up to age 25 through the seven Autism Support Centers located across the Commonwealth. These Centers all receive state funding from the Department of Developmental Services Autism Division. These Centers offer a variety of supports including: help with the eligibility process for DDS Children’s Services and the Autism Division, information and referral resources, support groups and trainings. Funding from the Autism Division also provides social skills, sensory and a variety of vacation and family programs. Please contact the Center in your area for more information.
DDS Autism Waiver Services
The Autism Waiver Program at the Department of Developmental Services Autism Division serves children, birth through age 9, with an autism spectrum disorder who meet the eligibility criteria.
Information is available through the Autism Support Centers.
Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
Insurance Resource Center for Autism and Behavioral Health
The Insurance Resource Center for Autism and Behavioral Health provides information to the public about insurance coverage under a new law, An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism (ARICA), which took effect in Massachusetts on January 1, 2011. There are many questions relating to the implementation of the law, e.g., to whom, ARICA applies, what treatments are covered and how to access coverage. The Center, a program of the E. K. Shriver Center, is designed to provide information and support for self-advocates, family members, providers, employers and educators on issues related to medical insurance for autism treatment. Also offers monthly webinars. Email AIRC@umassmed.edu for issues related to insurance coverage for autism treatment & services. Amy Weinstock, Director.
Sign up to receive informational mailings, invitations to events, and updates: Sign up to receive ARICA updates via email.
Am I Covered? – An easy to use screening tool, that determines if a person’s insurance is subject to the Massachusetts Autism Insurance Law (aka ARICA)
Autism Consortium Parent Information Packet for Families of Children with Autism Disorders (pdf)
The Parent Information Packet (PIP) is published by Autism Consortium. It is a guide for families that have recently received the diagnosis. The PIP includes information about available services, treatments, legislation, insurance, educational options and a list of valuable resources.
First 100 Days Toolkit
The Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit for Young Children (pdf) and the 100 Day Kit for School Age Children (pdf) were created specifically for newly diagnosed families to make the best possible use of the 100 days following their child’s diagnosis of autism or AS/HFA .
Families whose children have been diagnosed in the last 6 months may request a complimentary hard copy of the 100 Day Kit or the AS/HFA Tool Kit by calling 888-AUTISM2 (888-288-4762) and speaking with an Autism Response Team Coordinator.
Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM)
Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts formed in 2004 to address the need for public advocacy on behalf of individuals, families and professionals who have or deal with people of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
217 South Street
Waltham, MA 02453
Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC)
Provides support to parents of children with autism, advocates, educators, service providers and lawyers by providing information about the legal rights governing the education of children with autism, services available, and strategies for ensuring that a child receives services that meet his/her needs.
Autism Special Legal Support Center
25 Kingston Street, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02111
The Autism Special Education Legal Support Center
Operates a hotline that offers free advocacy assistance, referral and answers to questions about educational rights of children on the autism spectrum.
Federation for Children with Special Needs
Provides information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities. Also provides information about special education laws, IEP development and parent information guides, advice, access to advocacy, and statewide parent workshops.
The Schrafft Center 529 Main Street, Suite 1M3
Boston, MA 02129
Toll Free: 800-331-0688 (in MA)
Lurie Center for Autism
Interdisciplinary program designed to provide services in the evaluation and treatment of children and adults with autism, pervasive developmental disorder and related disorders.
Mass General Hospital
1 Maguire Road
Lexington, MA 02421
Integrated Center for Child Development (ICCD)
Multi-disciplinary center offering neuropsychological, behavioral, medical, and education assessments and services in Boston and the greater New England area. ICCD offers evaluative and treatment options to individual presenting with a variety of developmental challenges including autism and autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, genetic disorders and developmental disabilities, ADD/ADHD, psychiatric disorder and neurological injuries.
193 Oak Street, Suite 1
Newton, MA 02421-3114
Autism Housing Pathways
Was created to provide information, support, and resources for families who seek to create secure, supportive housing for their adult children with disabilities. Check website for housing opportunities and future workshops.
22 Willdale Road
Winchester, MA 01890
Contact: Catherine Boyle
Services / Providers
Autism Speaks – Family Services
Links to services including adult services, advocacy, legal, health services and more.
AANE Autism Spectrum Diagnosis Directory
This Directory includes professionals who conduct evaluations to determine whether or not a person meets the criteria for an Autism Spectrum diagnosis.
Transition to Adulthood Toolkit (provided by Autism Speaks)
Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit was created to serve as a guide to assist families on the journey from adolescence to adulthood.
Autism Science Foundation. Includes steps for creating a transition plan.
An online program designed to help autistic people get their driver’s licenses.
Lists Autism/Aspergers programs, services, and events in Massachusetts and New England.
From the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)
Resources for students with autism who want to pursue their passion for science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
Special thanks to Cariann Harsh (former of the Autism Division of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services) for providing information about the description of autism, Medicaid Autism Waiver Program and the seven Autism Support Centers.
Fact Sheet last updated on: 11/7/2023
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