Autism is conventionally defined by 3 symptoms or affected neural systems that co-occur for no apparent reason. The choice is to view these as separate dimensions coded for by different genes24,25 or to seek a common characteristic shared by the signs and symptoms that might explain their co-occurrence as a syndrome. Two studies examined the profile of neuropsychologic functioning in autism to identify a shared characteristic for the deficits and for the intact abilities.26,27 The first profile study provided the conceptual foundation for our fMRI studies that led to the present connectivity model for autism. As the field evolved, it was possible to also make the point with the second profile study that autism extended cognitively and neurologically beyond the diagnostic triad and thus more broadly involved the brain. Testing of 178 high-functioning autistic and control individuals aged 8 to 40 years across both studies revealed deficits in higher cortical sensory perception, skilled motor abilities, memory for complex stimuli that required detection or application of an organizing strategy, higher order language abilities (detection or creation of story themes, metaphors, inferences, or idioms), and concept formation. Spared or enhanced abilities included attention, elementary sensory perceptual abilities, elementary motor skills, memory for simple material dependent on basic associative skills, formal language skills, and the rule-learning aspects of abstraction. The conclusions drawn from this pattern were that (1) basic information acquisition abilities were intact, (2) impaired abilities shared a dependence on high demands on processing information or integration, (3) intact abilities shared a dependence on low information-processing demands, and (4) within and across domains, skills or abilities were impacted in proportion to the demands for integration of information. These observations led to the proposal that autism was a disorder of complex information processing with intact or enhanced simple information processing.28 This construct provided a reasonable account for the co-occurrence of the signs and symptoms as a syndrome. It was also a valuable model for intervention and teaching. From a neurobiological perspective, this concept suggested a developmental disturbance in neuronal organizational events with preservation or overdevelopment of local circuitry and underdevelopment of the connections within and between cortical systems in high-functioning individuals with autism. In low-functioning individuals with autism, there appears to be little to no development of functional connections between primary sensory cortex and association cortex. The common themes across the spectrum, regardless of severity, are cortical connectivity and information-processing capacity.