Autism Society of America

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Autism Society of America
Founded December 28, 1965; 52 years ago (1965-12-28)[1]
Founders Bernard Rimland,[2] Ivar Lovaas, Ruth C. Sullivan, and others
Legal status 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
Headquarters Bethesda, Maryland, United States
James Ball[3]
Scott Badesch[4]
Subsidiaries Autism Society of America Foundation[5]
Revenue (2013)
Expenses (2013) $2,378,089[5]
Endowment $50,000[5]
Employees (2013)
Volunteers (2013)
Formerly called
National Society for Autistic Children[6]

The Autism Society of America (ASA) was founded in 1965[1] by Bernard Rimland[2] 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;[6] the name was changed to emphasize that children with autism grow up. It is the oldest and one of the largest grassroots organization in the autism community with over 50,000 members and supporters connected through a network of nearly 200 chapters in the United States. The ASA's goal is to increase public awareness about autism and the day-to-day issues faced by people with autism as well as their families and the professionals with whom they interact. The organization advocates for programs and services for the autism community, and is a leading source of information, research, and reference on the condition.[7]


In 1964, Dr. Bernard Rimland wrote a book, Infantile Autism, about autism that convinced other individuals working in the field that autism is a physiological disorder, not a mental problem or an emotional problem.[8] Rimland received so many telephone calls from parents with children with autism who asked for more information about autism that Rimland decided to help organize the group and the Institute for Child Behavior Research in San Diego.[8] Mooza Grant served as the organization's first president.

Advocacy efforts[edit]

Since 1970, the ASA has held national conferences on autism spectrum disorders where families and professionals shared what they know and have learned through research and experience. It publishes The Autism Advocate, a print periodical offering information on research, legislation, and tips on living with autism as well as ASA-Net a free biweekly e-newsletter.

Successes in the political arena include the launch of a number of pieces of legislation aimed at protecting the rights of individuals with autism and mandating services for them, especially education. Autism was also included in the Developmental Disabilities Act of 1976. In addition congressional bills were passed to raise awareness of and appropriating funds for research into the causes of and treatments for autism.[citation needed] The ASA's work in Washington, D.C. has helped put autism on Congress' health care agenda resulting in millions of dollars devoted to autism research and services.[citation needed]


According to the organization's philosophy, no single program or treatment will benefit all people with autism. Instead, it believes decisions regarding what is most effective for any individual with autism should be determined by those directly involved; in particular the individual and the parents or family members of the affected person.


  1. ^ a b "Autism Society of America Inc." Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Government of the District of Columbia. Accessed on February 23, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Some Key Dates in Autism History". The Washington Post July 1, 2008. p. F5.
  3. ^ "Board of Directors". Autism Society of America. Accessed on February 23, 2016.
  4. ^ "Staff". Autism Society of America. Accessed on February 23, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Autism Society of America. Guidestar. December 31, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Campbell, Susan. "A place for miracles? Institute offers option for autistic children". St. Petersburg Times. April 13, 1988.
  7. ^ "Autism Organizations". Autism Key. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b 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.

External links[edit]