Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 1275-1300

Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Cynthia R. JohnsonAffiliated withSchool of Professional Psychology, Pacific UniversityUniversity of Pittsburgh


Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are biologically based, neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood onset characterized by significant impairment in social interactions and communication as well as restricted or stereotyped patterns of behavior and interests (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). As many as one in 150-500 children are affected (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007; Fombonne, 2003). With the increased prevalence of ASD, many clinical psychologists will be charged with providing services to these children, adolescents, adults, and their families. In fact, the training of the needed services providers to serve this group of individuals has been the topic of national discussion (National Research Council, 2001). Clinically, the roles for this population fall primarily into 1) screening and referral services, 2) diagnostic services, 3) treatment development, delivery, and evaluation,4) oversight and supervision of treatment delivery, 5) staff training, 6) parent education and training, and 7) consultation and staff training services. Given the heterogeneity of ASD, clinical competency across all ages, all functioning levels, and all levels of severity entail a broad range of professional skill sets. This chapter will provide an overview of ASD, the clinical roles in serving individuals with ASD, and then more detailed information about both basic and expert competencies required to in the delivery of these services.