I found a site called Right Health that has an article which explains the basics of autism better than some of the government sites I explored. The basics are the who, what, where, when, why, and hows of the disorder. A good site covering the disorder should provide a description of symptoms and discussions of diagnosis, treatment options, and may touch on prognosis. This one goes a bit further and touches on the issues behind autism.
Unlike some of the U.S. government sites, this site has type large enough to read. The explanation offered is simple yet seems complete. It's also fairly gentle in terms of not shocking a parent researching the disorder for the first time.
One really doesn't want to read about the chances of mental retardation in a child with autism being seventy-five percent. I, personally, do not believe this statistic contains a lot of truth. I think that the current tests for intelligence quotients are not adequate for individuals with autism. So when I read this stat on a site with the basics I cringe. A quick scan of Right Health did not turn up such a stat, so I think it's safe.
Some people who have more in-depth knowledge of autism may not like this site because the writer(s) claim there is no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. Hopefully, however, a parent who has a child without a diagnosis or a newly diagnosed child with autism will keep reading various websites, blogs and books before forming a personal opinion. I'm still exploring some of these issues and do not wish to state a strong opinion. At the moment my goal is to provide information from both sides so a person can decide for themselves. This topic can cause heated arguments amongst autism parents.
Final note: One also has to be aware of credibility of various websites. My friend who is a health librarian at the local university recommends Medline Plus when asked a research question on autism. Medline Plus is an excellent site and the Right Health article lists it as a source. I'm hoping that this is a good sign in terms of the Right Health article being credible.