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Nashville Autism Peer Support
Welcomes You!

We offer fellowship for your trials and triumphs in a safe and supportive atmosphere. 

Programs and Services:
NAPS Communities

NAPS recognizes that the autistic community comprises individuals from all walks of life and interests, and encourages members to form community groups specific to their identities and interests.

Monthly Meeting

*17 and under must be accompanied by a parent/guardian due to potential topic sensitivity.




1st Saturday of the month.

Nashville, TN

10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

If you would like more information, please email


Also, follow us on social media for meeting reminders and updates.

  • Facebook
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  • Twitter

Autism Terminology:
Autism/ASD and Neurodiversity

What is it?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association that healthcare providers use to diagnose mental disorders, people with ASD often have:

Difficulty with communication and interaction with other people Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors Symptoms that affect their ability to function in school, work, and other areas of life


Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. People of all genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds can be diagnosed with ASD. Although ASD can be a lifelong disorder, treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and daily functioning.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive screening for autism. Caregivers should talk to their child’s healthcare provider about ASD screening or evaluation. People with ASD have difficulty with social communication and interaction, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors. The list below gives some examples of common types of behaviors in people diagnosed with ASD. Not all people with ASD will have all behaviors, but most will have several of the behaviors listed below. Social communication/interaction behaviors may include:

  • Making little or inconsistent eye contact

  • Appearing not to look at or listen to people who are talking

  • Infrequently sharing interest, emotion, or enjoyment of objects or activities (including by infrequently pointing at or showing things to others)

  • Not responding or being slow to respond to one’s name or to other verbal bids for attention

  • Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversation

  • Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond

  • Displaying facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said

  • Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like

  • Having trouble understanding another person’s point of view or being unable to predict or understand other people’s actions

  • Difficulties adjusting behaviors to social situations

  • Difficulties sharing in imaginative play or in making friends

Restrictive/repetitive behaviors may include:

  • Repeating certain behaviors or having unusual behaviors, such as repeating words or phrases (a behavior called echolalia)

  • Having a lasting intense interest in specific topics, such as numbers, details, or facts

  • Showing overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects

  • Becoming upset by slight changes in a routine and having difficulty with transitions

  • Being more sensitive or less sensitive than other people to sensory input, such as light, sound, clothing, or temperature

  • People may also experience sleep problems and irritability.

  • People on the autism spectrum also may have many strengths, including:

  • Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time

  • Being strong visual and auditory learners

  • Excelling in math, science, music, or art

What is it?

According to Psychology Today:

The word neurodiversity—a portmanteau of “neurological” and “diversity”—was first coined in the 1990s by Australian social scientist Judy Singer, who is herself on the autism spectrum. It has gained significant ground in recent years, particularly among advocacy communities. The term originally referred most commonly to autism but has since come to include ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette's, synesthesia, as well as other learning and developmental differences.

Resources and Services

Resources for those newly diagnosed and those who've known

Engineering technologies and transforming the workplace - inspired by neurodiversity.

The Frist Center for Autism and Innovation, engineering technologies and transforming the workplace – inspired by neurodiversity, at the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering brings engineers, business scholars, and disabilities researchers together with experts in neuroscience and education to understand, maximize, and promote neurodiverse talent. From a strengths-based – as opposed to deficit-based – understanding of autism and neurodiversity, the Center sees opportunities for innovation in technology and in workplace practices.  

The Vanderbilt Autism Resource Line is a single helpline to make it easier for families and professionals to find information about autism-related clinical, research, and outreach services at Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The helpline serves families, caregivers, clinicians, educators, and others in need of autism-related resources at Vanderbilt.

You speak directly to the TRIAD Family Services Coordinator, Nina Harris, an experienced professional knowledgeable about autism resources including diagnostic evaluation services, school consultation, parent workshops, and professional training.


Local: (615) 322-7565

Toll-free: (877) ASD-VUMC (273-8862)



For information on autism resources external to Vanderbilt, contact Tennessee Disability Pathfinder.


Local: (615) 322-8529

Toll-free: (800) 640-4636


Links and Resources...

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