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Autism and Autism Spectrum DisordersHistory, Diagnosis, Neurobiology, Treatment and Outcome
Yale University School of Medicine, USA
Autism and related conditions (often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD) are a clinically related group of conditions characterized by marked social difficulties and variable degrees of communication problems as well as unusual responses to the nonsocial environment. Autism, the prototypic condition in this group, was first described... read morein 1943. Other conditions presently included in both the American (DSM) and International (ICD) classification systems include Asperger’s disorder, Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and ‘subthreshold’ category (often referred to as atypical autism or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified).
Early research on these conditions was haltingly slow for various reasons but work in the late 1970’s clarified the distinctiveness of autism as a diagnostic category and its strong neurobiological and genetic basis. Since 1994 there has been a veritable explosion of research and clinical work, for example a search of Medline reveals over 700 scientific papers published in 2008 alone. Research has advanced both basic and clinical work with major improvement in long term outcome for individuals with these conditions. This series will provide an overview of these conditions of interest to clinicians and researchers alike.