New Developments in Autism: The Future Is Today

New Developments in Autism: The Future Is Today

New Developments in Autism: The Future Is Today

New Developments in Autism: The Future Is Today


This international collection provides a comprehensive overview of cutting-edge research on autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) by well-known experts in the field, stressing the importance of early diagnosis and a good working relationship between parents and professionals. The contributors cover a wide range of aspects of ASDs, from early assessment techniques, neurodevelopment and brain function to language development, executive function and genetic research. They explore how individuals with ASDs think and give evidence-based guidance on how to handle difficulties with social interaction and language development using appropriate interventions. New Developments in Autism will be of great interest to professionals, researchers, therapists, parents and people with ASDs.


There is no doubt one of the objects of greatest interest to the human being throughout history has been the understanding of himself. This interest is, in turn, one of the defining characteristics of our enigmatic and elusive nature. We believe that this book is a modest contribution to this arduous, costly and passionate task of understanding. As has been indicated on other occasions (Hobson 2002), the understanding of the mind not only includes the study of those processes which we consider to be normal, but also the study of those processes which produce discomfort, as they may provide us with an understanding equally as enriching.

Some of the terms used to describe human nature, such as 'enigmatic' or 'elusive', are also applicable to many of its variations. One example of a dysfunction of human conduct clearly deserving of such terms is autism. Since the psychiatrist Leo Kanner (1943) and the paediatrician Hans Asperger ([1944] 1991), both Austrian, first documented the syndrome which we today know as autism in the scientific literature, this disorder has come to represent one of the principal themes of developmental psychopathology. Both of those articles, but above all the first, have become key references each and every time one reflects on autism. To not mention those authors, aside from being quite difficult (in the specialized literature they are the most frequently cited authors), would be like travelling to Madrid without passing through the Prado, or visiting London without seeing Buckingham Palace.

There remains no doubt that autism is fascinating for many reasons, some of which we will approach in this introduction.

Since its first definition in 1943, and more intensely since the latter half of the 1980s, a lot of effort has been made to understand autism. This effort is manifested in a large number of publications, in specialized scientific journals as well as in books, which approach diverse aspects of the clinical picture of autism, from its genetic bases to overt . . .

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