The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders

Published on October 28, 2021   44 min

A selection of talks on Neuroscience

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Hello, this is Fred Volkmar. I'm going to be talking today about the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. I'm the Irving B. Harris Professor at the Yale University Child Study Center, and the Dorothy Goodwin Endowed Chair of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University, both located in New Haven, Connecticut, in the USA.
Let me state my conflicts of interest. I'm supported in small part through the National Institute of Mental Health Autism Center of Excellence Grant to Kasia Chawarska, I also receive book royalties from Guilford Press, Springer, Cambridge University Press, and some others. I'm the editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and the editor of the Encyclopedia of Autism.
Let me give a little bit of an overview. We're going to be talking about the background of diagnostic classification in general, and the development of autism as a diagnostic concept. We'll review categorical approaches, before discussing dimensional approaches, and issues for the future. Note that I'm going to use the terms 'autism' and 'autism spectrum disorder' interchangeably, for the most part. Occasionally, I'm going to be talking about the newer term 'autism spectrum disorder' very specifically.
A quick word on principles and issues in classification. There are different purposes for classification: it should sometimes be used to help enhance communication; sometimes research - it may help us understand prediction and prognosis, it may help us also focus on ideology and explanation, by itself (a label) it's not, of course, an explanation; it may also help in treatment and planning, and also in social policy issues as we think about resources for communities, states, and agencies. There are typically tensions between clinical and research purposes of classifications.