Originally described by both Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger in the early 1940s, autism is a behaviourally-defined condition, characterized by social-communication difficulties and restricted repetitive behaviours and interests. Until today, the description of the condition retains much of the essence of how it was defined early on. However, in other ways, we are somewhat at sea compared with earlier times in terms of understanding autism. For example, we now know that autism rarely occurs on its own: the vast majority of individuals with autism show other conditions too, such as other neurodevelopmental or psychiatric conditions. For many forms of autism, the condition exists on an etiological continuum with typical variation in autistic traits within the general population. Finally, the heterogeneity within autism itself may be the greatest bottleneck to progress.
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Professor Barbara Franke is a Specialist Subject Editor for JCPP, a full profile can be found here.
Dr. Eric Fombonne is a Joint Editor for JCPP, a full profile can be found here.
Professor Angelica Ronald is a Joint Editor for JCPP, a full profile can be found here.