Autism Society of America Publishes New Online Course

"Autism and the Environment 101" Offers Accessible
Information to All Affected by Autism

Bethesda, MD - The Autism Society of America is pleased to announce the release of its newest online course, "Autism and the Environment 101." Sponsored by the John Merck Fund, this introductory level course was designed to give individuals with autism spectrum disorders, parents, other family members, physicians, educators, or anyone affected by autism a general overview of the links between environmental toxins and autism.

"It is our hope that by developing balanced information and resources we can help people think through their options more effectively and with greater support," said ASA President & CEO Lee Grossman.

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disability that typically appears in the first two years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. The rates of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have risen sharply in the last decade, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in 2007 that one in 150 children will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Scientists suspect that an increasing amount of environmental triggers coupled with genetic vulnerability could explain the dramatic increases in the rates of ASD around the world."Autism and the Environment 101" examines some of the toxins present in our changing environment their affect on our bodies, the rapidly rising rates of ASD and the role of the government in regulating chemicals.

It also discusses what we can do every day to protect ourselves and our children. Written in conversational language free of jargon, the online course is accessible to anyone, and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. Most importantly, the course represents a new model of autism that sees it as a whole-body condition, with many opportunities for interventions and treatments that can lead to optimal outcomes for people with ASD, as opposed to the old model of a hard-wired genetic brain disorder."

While the idea that environmental influences could be harming our children is disturbing, this goes along with the possibility that changing the environment could help," said Dr. Martha Herbert, ASA's Director of Treatment-Guided Research and lead author of the course. "The best way to deal with this problem is through learning about what is going on and how to be empowered in our responses."A more detailed and extensive course, "

Autism and the Environment 201" will be released in the coming months.

To learn more about autism and the environment or take the course, please visit ASA's Environmental Health Initiative at

About ASA: ASA, the nation's leading grassroots autism organization, exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. For more information, visit

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