chapter  3
38 Pages

Reconceptualization of autism and autism spectrum disorders as neurodevelopmental disorders

ByJessica Griebling, Diane L. Williams, Gerald Goldstein, Nancy J. Minshew

Introduction Autism and related conditions (autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specifi ed) are also collectively known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD. Prototypical features of autism have been noted since its initial documentation (Kanner, 1943). In more recent years, however, there has been a reconceptualization of the disorder due to greater understanding of biological and behavioral mechanisms. In accordance, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders V (DSM-V, under development) may well eliminate the subcategories of ASD and retain this single diagnostic designation, refl ecting the lack of validity, reliability, and signifi cance of clinical distinctions. Functional defi nitions of abilities and limitations, as well as descriptions of typical behavior, may provide a more accurate picture of the individual than the existing diagnostic subcategories of ASD.