Do you know exactly what autism is? Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a name that refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. There are many subtypes of autism and it is actually a spectrum disorder. This means that two different people with autism will not have the same set of strengths as well as challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.