Autism FAQ - Mailing List, Archives, FAQ Memo, Web Page & Online Information

The AUTISM Mailing List

The AUTISM Mailing List ( is an open e-mail-based forum to discuss autism currently hosted by APANA, and administered by volunteers ( The list was previously hosted by St. John's University between 1992 and 2006. It includes parents, autistic people, researchers, professionals, students, and other people interested in autism. Discussion is lively: many weeks see 500 or more postings. It is a very good forum for posing a question for which you do not know who would have the answer.

There is a FAQ memo specifically about the list at

The mailing list is administered by the software, Mailman, which gives you the ability to subscribe, sign off, get past messages, stop mail during vacations, get the mail in a digest, and other things, all without the necessity of asking someone to do it for you. You can do these things at Here are brief instructions for some of the more common requests it can handle:

Subscribing to the list
Fill out the form, giving at least your name and e-mail address, under "Subscribing to autism". Mailman will reply with a confirmation request including its own instructions. Once you are subscribed, you will receive all mail sent to, and any mail you send to that address will be sent to all the members of the AUTISM mailing list. You will also be given a password to use for changing your options and unsubscribing.
Signing off of the list
Enter your e-mail address in the appropriate box under "autism Subscribers", click the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button, enter your password, and click the "Unsubscribe" button.
Receiving the postings in digests
Once you are subscribed, you can adjust Mailman to send the postings to you as one long message per day instead of the usual one hundred or more. To set this up, act as above, but click the "Log in" button instead of the "Unsubscribe" button. Then, under "Your autism Subscription Options", click "On" next to "Set Digest Mode", and finally click the "Submit My Changes" button at the bottom.

Note: do not send requests to subscribe or sign off to the list itself. This practice results in thousands of people getting lots of extra messages. Be careful to send Mailman commands to Mailman, or contact the folks who run the list.

Who to e-mail about issues relating to the AUTISM mailing list

If you have a question about autism, you can join the list and ask it to the list members. If you need to contact someone about an issue with the list itself, you can contact the list administators, (

AUTISM Mailing List Archives

The Mailman software keeps an archive of all the messagesever posted to the AUTISM Mailing List, and you can make it search and retrieve messages from the archive. Instructions and a password on how to do this are available from the list owners upon becoming a member of the list.

After the list's migration from St. John's University in January 2006, the archives can no longer be searched via e-mail.

Other Mailing lists

See section "Initiatives" below about ANI-L, and other lists.

Frequently Asked Questions Memo (this memo)

An introduction to autism to answer questions that people frequently have about it. The memo began in early 1993 and has grown as of late 1998 to over 7500 lines of text. The material is largely factual material posted, sometimes repeatedly, on mailing lists that discuss autism. If people ask about it, it belongs here. Web address of FAQ Memo:

Other versions of this memo are available. In one, recent changes to the memo are marked; in the other, the memo is broken into smaller pages of 500 lines each for people with web browsers that cannot handle 3000+ lines. Both of these are at the "Autism Resources" web site, specifically through the page with URL:

What this FAQ memo is and what it isn't

The nature and treatment of Autism remains sufficiently controversial that in order for a FAQ memo to avoid giving you just one viewpoint, it cannot answer the difficult question: "which treatment really works". And the FAQ memo certainly doesn't give medical advice. What a FAQ memo does is document facts such as definition of terms, references to books, organizations, and treatment programs, even "who is saying what about what"; essentially, background material both to help you understand what is being said in the online discussions, in books, in talking with professionals, and in understanding what people are saying when they tell you about the best methods. The FAQ memo avoids making judgements about treatments (with one big exception: it gives no credence to the idea popular in the 1950s that Autism is caused by poor parenting), but this in itself skews its message: by documenting the most unlikely treatments along with the mainstream ones, it can induce the reader to give them undue credit. Please keep this in mind.

Also, the FAQ memo is certainly imperfect both in its accuracy and its avoidence of opinion. But it is constantly improved through the suggestions and corrections of its readers.

Web Page & Other Online Information

In general, this FAQ memo does not list online resources: rather than fill this memo with URLs for you to type in, I have assembled them in one convenient web page to compliment this memo. The web page (which includes this FAQ Memo) is called "Autism Resources" and is at: