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Andreas M. Grabrucker, PhD

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are developmental disorders. While intellectual and sometimes physical disabilities can be features of ASD, first and foremost, having a developmental disorder simply means that individuals with ASD develop differently. These differences are mainly present in social interaction, communication, and sensory processing and become visible through a wide variety of behavioral responses that differ from individuals without ASD. However, the term “spectrum” implies that individuals with ASD are affected to varying degrees. They can also display a range of features and possible comorbidities associated with ASD. Dr. Leo Kanner published the first formal description of the behavioral differences in 1943. He described 11 children, mostly boys, and depicted the essential features of autism, all of which are still present in current diagnostic tools. At the same time, Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician, was working with children displaying similar but milder features. Initially termed “autism” or “Asperger’s syndrome” after Hans Asperger, the name autism spectrum disorder was adopted in 2013.Although the defining features of ASD remain essentially the same since their clinical description in 1943, we still do not fully know what causes ASD. However, researchers have gained extensive insights into possible pathomechanisms (genetic and non-genetic) even at the molecular level of cells. CONTINUE READING.....


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