An Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Heterogeneity and Treatment Options OPEN ACCESS

 Anne Masi1 • Marilena M. DeMayo1 • Nicholas Glozier1 • Adam J. Guastella1 

1Autism Clinic for Translational Research, Brain and Mind Centre, Central Clinical School, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia



Since the documented observations of Kanner in 1943, there has been great debate about the diagnoses, the sub-types, and the diagnostic threshold that relates to what is now known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Reflecting this complicated history, there has been continual refinement from DSM-III with ‘Infantile Autism’ to the current DSM-V diagnosis. The disorder is now widely accepted as a complex, pervasive, heterogeneous condition with multiple etiologies, sub-types, and developmental trajectories. Diagnosis remains based on observation of atypical behaviors, with criteria of persistent deficits in social communication and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. This review provides a broad overview of the history, prevalence, etiology, clinical presentation, and heterogeneity of ASD. Factors contributing to heterogeneity, including genetic variability, comorbidity, and gender are reviewed. We then explore current evidence-based pharmacological and behavioral treatments for ASD and highlight the complexities of conducting clinical trials that evaluate therapeutic efficacy in ASD populations. Finally, we discuss the potential of a new wave of research examining objective biomarkers to facilitate the evaluation of sub-typing, diagnosis, and treatment response in ASD.



Autism Spectrum Disorder, Diagnosis,Heterogeneity, Treatment