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Annual Research Review: Looking back to look forward – changes in the concept of autism and implications for future research

Happé, F; Frith, U; (2020) Annual Research Review: Looking back to look forward – changes in the concept of autism and implications for future research. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry , 61 (3) pp. 218-232. 10.1111/jcpp.13176.

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Abstract

The concept of autism is a significant contribution from child psychiatry that has entered wider culture and public consciousness, and has evolved significantly over the last four decades. Taking a rather personal retrospective, reflecting on our own time in autism research, this review explores changes in the concept of autism and the implications of these for future research. We focus on seven major changes in how autism is thought of, operationalised, and recognised: (1) from a narrow definition to wide diagnostic criteria; (2) from a rare to a relatively common condition, although probably still under‐recognised in women; (3) from something affecting children, to a lifelong condition; (4) from something discreet and distinct, to a dimensional view; (5) from one thing to many ‘autisms’, and a compound or ‘fractionable’ condition; (6) from a focus on ‘pure’ autism, to recognition that complexity and comorbidity is the norm; and finally, (7) from conceptualising autism purely as a ‘developmental disorder’, to recognising a neurodiversity perspective, operationalised in participatory research models. We conclude with some challenges for the field and suggestions for areas currently neglected in autism research.

Type: Article
Title: Annual Research Review: Looking back to look forward – changes in the concept of autism and implications for future research
DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.13176
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13176
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorders, Asperger disorder, neurodevelopmental disorders, social cognition
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10091945
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