Even in the 21st century, the cause(s) of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) remain(s) elusive, and few treatments are supported by double- blind studies. In this special issue of Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, we highlight studies that address new research exploring possible causes of ASD and potential new treatments.
Background: Autism causes incapacitating neurologic problems in children that last a lifetime. The author of this article previously hypothesized that autism may be caused by autoimmunity to the brain, possibly triggered by a viral infection. This article is a summary of laboratory findings to date plus new data in support of an autoimmune pathogenesis for autism.
The power and promise of identifying autism early: Insights from the search for clinical and biological markers
Background: The biological changes that lead to autism likely occur during prenatal life. Although earlier identification of the disorder has occurred within the past decade, the mean age of diagnosis is still not made before a mean age of 3 years. This is because autism remains a
behaviorally defined disorder, placing limits on the age at which a confident diagnosis can be made. The study of the biological basis of autism prior to age 3 is essential and can most directly be achieved with prospective
Applied behavior analytic interventions for children with autism: A description and review of treatment research
Background: Autism is a disorder characterized by pervasive delays in the development of language and socialization, and the presence of stereotyped, repetitive behaviors or nonfunctional interests. Although a multitude of treatments for autism exist, very few have been the subject of scientific research. The only treatment that has been supported by substantial empirical research is treatment based on applied behavior analysis (ABA).
Empowering families through Relationship Development Intervention: An important part of the biopsychosocial management of autism spectrum disorders
Background: Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) is a program designed to empower and guide parents of children, adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and similar developmental disorders to function as facilitators for their children’s mental development. RDI teaches parents to play an important role in improving
critical emotional, social, and metacognitive abilities through carefully graduated, guided interaction in daily activities.