Autism Spectrum Disorders
Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Autism, and Asperger syndrome are the three diagnoses that comprise Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior” (

Cause: The cause of Autism is unknown. Research has shown that gentics may contribute to the occurance of Autism. However, the exact cause of Autism is unknown.

Diagnosis: Children are typically diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3. Diagnosis is made based on the definition of Autism found in the DSM-IV-TR. The criteria in the DSV-IV-TR is based on behavior. In order to meet the criteria for diagnosis, an individual must exhibit six symptoms, two of which must be related to social interaction, one related to communication, and one related to restricted or repetitive behavior.


Social Development:
  • Limited interaction with others
  • Lack of developmentally appropriate peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneously sharing of enjoyment, interests, or achievements
  • Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
  • Ineffective eye contact, facial expressions, body postures, and gestures
  • Does not show objects of interests to others, or seek to involve others in play
  • Delayed or lack in development of vocal language
  • Impairment  in imitation or maintenance of conversation
  • Stereotyped and repetitive language or idiosyncratic language
  • No or few words or gestures
  • No contextual conversation
  • Repeated phrases, echolalia, or preoccupation with topics
Stereotyped Responses:
  • Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects (i.e. playing with wheels, or same toys over and over without variation)
  • Stereotyped repetitive body movements (body rocking, hand flapping, etc)
  • Tantrums or self-injuries when a routine is not followed precisely
  • Hand-flapping, finger-twisting, complex body movements
  • Gazing at moving lights, listening to sounds, stimulus over selectivity
  • Preservative staring at play items or discussions
  • Looking at objects from an atypical angle
For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page: 

Applied Behavior Analysis
In 1999 a report on mental health prepared by the Surgeon General of the United States stated, “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.”

Behavior Analysis is the scientific study of behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of this science. The principles of ABA are applied to create increases and decreases in behavior. Behaviors that are targeted to increase or decrease are those that are socially significant. Over 40 years of research have shown the effectiveness of ABA across populations, settings and behaviors. ABA has been endorsed as an effective treatment for Autism by the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Mental Health Institute.
The defining characteristics of ABA were established in an article written by Don Baer, Montrose Wolf, and Todd Risley in 1968. There are 7 defining characteristics:
  • Applied – behaviors addressed should be socially significant. The client, those who interact with them, and socialized norms determine what is considered socially significant.
  • Behavioral- behavior and environmental events need to be observable and measurable
  • Analytic- demonstrates a functional relationship between the manipulated events and the behavior
  • Technological- procedures are precisely described such that any other researcher or behavior analyst can replicate the application
  • Conceptually Systematic- behavior changes are described in terms of relevant basic principles (example: the behavior increased as a result of providing positive reinforcement)
  • Effective- must improve behavior to a socially meaningful extent
  • Generality- behavior change lasts over time, occurs in other settings, or affects other behaviors not directly addressed by the intervention
Developmental Milestones
Why is this an important resource?
Developmental Milestones help parents assess developmental progress of their child.
What is child development?
Child development refers to how a child becomes able to do more complex things as they get older. Developmental is different than growth. Growth only refers to the child getting bigger in size.
When we talk about typical development, we are talking about developing skills like:
  • Gross motor: using large groups of muscles to sit, stand, walk, run, etc., keeping balance, and changing positions.
  • Fine motor: using hands to be able to eat, draw, dress, play, write, and do many other things.
  • Language: speaking, using body language and gestures, communincating, and understanding what others say.
  • Cognitive: thinking skills: including learning, understanding, problem-solving, reasoning, and remembering.
  • Social: interacting with others, having relationships with family, friends, and teachers, cooperating, and responding to the feelings of others.
What are developmental milestones?
Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range. Milestones are used to help check how your child is developing. Although each milestone has an age level, the actual age when a typically developing child reaches that milestone can vary quite a bit. Every child is unique!
For Developmental Milestones checklist, click on the links below