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Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impaired social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive behaviors. Symptoms of an ASD usually appear before the age of 3 years and can be accurately diagnosed by 2. Early, accurate diagnosis can lead to timely referral for effective intervention which is directly associated with gains in verbal and nonverbal communication, higher intelligence test scores, and improved social interaction.

The Initiative's first publication, Autism Spectrum Disorders: Missouri Best Practice Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis, and Assessment encourages Missouri’s expanding networks of well-trained and experienced ASD clinicians to work collaboratively to identify individuals at risk for ASDs and to ensure accurate diagnostic evaluation and assessment for intervention services.

The intent of this collaborative approach is to promote the early identification of individuals with ASDs and their entry into a full range of appropriate community-based services. The Guidelines deal specifically with current practice and access to services in the state of Missouri and is not intended to be interpreted as policy or regulation, but rather as a guide for professional practice.

The Initiative's second publication now focuses on understanding evidenced-based interventions.

Now available: A video overview of the Guidelines, plus comments from Missouri clinicians directly involved in this consensus publication.

Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guide to Evidence-based Interventions can be ordered at no cost or can be downloaded now, along with its Summary. The 2010 companion guide, Autism Spectrum Disorders: Missouri Best Practice Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis, and Assessment is available online, along with overviews for families, clinicians and service providers and educators.