Autism Society of America

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Autism Society of America
FoundersBernard Rimland,[1] Ivar Lovaas, Ruth C. Sullivan, and others
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
HeadquartersRockville, Maryland, United States
Lori A. Ireland[2]
Christopher Banks
SubsidiariesAutism Society of America Foundation[3]
Revenue (2013)
Expenses (2013)$2,378,089[3]
Employees (2013)
Volunteers (2013)
Formerly called
National Society for Autistic Children[4]

The Autism Society of America (ASA) was founded in 1965[6] by Bernard Rimland[1] and Ivar Lovaas together with Ruth C. Sullivan and a small group of other parents of children with autism. Its original name was the National Society for Autistic Children;[4] the name was changed to emphasize that autistic children grow up. The ASA's stated goal is to increase public awareness about autism and the day-to-day issues faced by autistic people as well as their families and the professionals with whom they interact.[7] Although the group has promoted the pseudoscientific belief that vaccines cause autism in the past, it now affirms that there is no link between vaccination and autism.[8] In 2021, the ASA launched a new brand including a logo consisting of multicolor lines forming a fabric with a new slogan, "The Connection Is You".[9]


Ivar Løvaas[edit]

Ole Ivar Løvaas (8 May 1927 – 2 August 2010) was a Norwegian-American clinical psychologist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is most well-known for his research on what was then called behavior modification to teach autistic children through prompts, modeling, and positive reinforcement. His method also had a history of using aversives to reduce undesired behaviors.[10][11]

Lovaas founded the Lovaas Institute and co-founded the Autism Society of America. He has also been considered a pioneer of what is now called applied behavior analysis due to his development of discrete trial training and early intensive behavioral intervention for autistic children.

His work influenced how autism is treated, and Lovaas received widespread acclaim and several awards for his work during his lifetime.[12]

Bernard Rimland[edit]

Bernard Rimland (November 15, 1928 – November 21, 2006) was an American research psychologist, writer, lecturer, and influential person in the field of developmental disorders who is known for promoting autism-related pseudoscience. In 1964, Dr. Bernard Rimland wrote a book, Infantile Autism, that convinced others working in the field that autism is a physiological disorder, not a mental or emotional problem.[13] Rimland was a founder of the Autism Society of America in 1965, but left to create the Autism Research Institute in 1967.[14] He later promoted several theories, which have since been disproven, about the causes and treatment of autism, including vaccine denial, facilitated communication, chelation therapy, and false claims of a link between secretin and autism.

Ruth C. Sullivan[edit]

Ruth C. Sullivan was the first elected president of the Autism Society of America. She is also on the permanent honorary board of the society. Ruth Sullivan was founder and former Executive Director of the Autism Services Center, a nonprofit licensed behavioral health care agency that she founded in Huntington, West Virginia in 1979. It now provides services in four counties to families who have a family member with developmental disabilities. She retired from the Autism Services Center on November 1, 2007 at the age of 83. Sullivan assisted in the production of the 1988 movie, Rain Man, by serving as a consultant on autistic behavior, and Dustin Hoffman worked with Sullivan and her son Joseph, who is autistic, when practising for his role.


  1. ^ a b "Some Key Dates in Autism History". The Washington Post July 1, 2008. p. F5.
  2. ^ "[1]". Autism Society of America. Accessed on March 26, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Autism Society of America. Guidestar. December 31, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Campbell, Susan. "A place for miracles? Institute offers option for autistic children". St. Petersburg Times. April 13, 1988.
  5. ^ "[". About the Autism Society. Autism Society. November 15, 2021.
  6. ^ "About the Autism Society". Autism Society. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  7. ^ "Autism Organizations". Autism Key. January 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  8. ^ "Statement of the Autism Society of America on Vaccine Safety". Autism Society. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  9. ^ "Autism Society's New Brand Launch". 15 November 2021.
  10. ^ Larsson, Eric V; Wright, Scott (2011). "O. Ivar Lovaas (1927–2010)". The Behavior Analyst. 34 (1): 111–114. doi:10.1007/BF03392239. PMC 3089401.
  11. ^ Fox, Margalit (August 2010). "O. Ivar Lovaas, pioneer in developing therapies for autism, dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  12. ^ SCCAP Award Winners: Division 53, (Retrieved 29 May 2018)
  13. ^ Krause, Audrie. "Authority on Autism Speaks from Experience: Doctor Began Research After His Son Was Diagnosed with Disorder 30 Years Ago". The Fresno Bee. November 18, 1987.
  14. ^ Carey, Benedict (November 28, 2006). "Bernard Rimland, 78, Scientist Who Revised View of Autism, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 15 May 2014.

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