Frequently Asked Questions


What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to broad range of challenges associated with social skills, repetitive behaviors and difficulty coping with change. Children with ASD often have difficulties with speech and nonverbal communication. Because autism is a spectrum disorder the signs, symptoms and behaviors will differ for each child. Approximately 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with ASD.

Learn more about ASD here.

I think I/my child may have autism but I'm not sure. How can I find out?

Learn the signs! There are many resources and milestones to investigate, and Autism Spectrum Disorder can look different for each individual child.

Check out this checklist for more signs.

How is autism diagnosed? Is there a test for it?

There is no one test to diagnosis Autism Spectrum Disorder; there can be a myriad of tests, screenings, observations and interviews to determine if a diagnosis is appropriate.

To learn more, visit this website.

How can I find out what caused my child's autism?

Research suggests that autism might develop due to a combination of genetic and nongenetic or environmental influences. However, there is no one cause of autism and these influences simply appear to increase the risk of developing autism.

To learn more, visit Autism Speaks.

How can I find the best treatments for myself or my child?

Research, research, research. Ask questions of your primary care physician, talk to your child-care provider or neighborhood school, and speak to fellow parents. Families are some of your best resources.

Check out this article for more information.

What's the difference between a medical and a school diagnosis?

Per the Autism Society website, a medical diagnosis is made by a physician based on an assessment of symptoms and diagnostic tests. A medical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, for instance, is most frequently made by a physician according to theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual(DSM-5, released 2013) of the American Psychological Association. An educational determination is made by a multidisciplinary evaluation team of various school professionals. The evaluation results are reviewed by a team of qualified professionals and the parents to determine whether a student qualifies for special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (Hawkins, 2009).

To learn more, visit the Autism Society’s site.

Where do I start looking for services?

You’ve found the right website! The goal of AweTsome (Autism Alaska) is to help families navigate services! Take a look at our resource page, talk to your pediatrician and continue to advocate for your child’s needs!

How common is autism?

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 59 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism. Boys tend to be more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

My child is “aging out of the system” - what do I do now?

Children living with Autism grow up into adults living with Autism. It can be a confusing transition. There are agencies in Alaska that can help you navigate those services and stages. It is very important to start planning when your child is a young teen.

This article is a good starting point.

How long can my child receive services and support from our school?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) details very specific rights and requirements for your child to continue receiving services after the age 18.

Read here for more.

My insurance isn’t covering a service or medication - what do I do now?

Per the State of Alaska there are requirements for insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders. The law describes the method for establishing a covered treatment plan for those disorders, define the covered treatment for those disorders, establish the Comprehensive Autism Early Diagnosis and Treatment Task Force, and provide for an effective date.

Read here for more.

What are ICD-10 Codes?

ICD-10 Codes are International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM). To receive a medical diagnosis (and services), you must have the code in place for your child.

For more information, visit this website.