Intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as Asperger syndrome and autism, are a primary focus of the NICHD's research support. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), which currently include Asperger syndrome, have a range of symptoms that affect behavior, interpersonal interactions, and learning. In the American Psychiatric Association's current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV-TR, ASDs fall under the diagnostic category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders.
As a member of the NIH Autism Coordinating Committee and a participant in the Department of Health and Human Services Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, the NICHD is one of many federal entities supporting ASD research. The NICHD's portfolio covers a variety of topics in ASD, including etiology, epidemiology, treatment, and screening. The Institute also supports professional training and the development of the scientific infrastructure that will facilitate research about ASD.