What is autism? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a neurological and developmental disability characterized by challenges with social skills, interpersonal relationships, repetitive behaviors, and communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children in the United States as of a 2018 study. That statistic may be even higher today. Autism is considered a "spectrum" disorder because there is a wide variation in type and severity of symptoms that each individual experiences. Although autism is a lifelong disorder, treatment can improve the severity of a person’s symptoms as well as their independence and overall quality of life.