21. The Autistic Spectrum Disorders

  1. William M. Klykylo5 and
  2. Jerald Kay6
  1. Russell Tobe1,
  2. Young Shin Kim2,
  3. Thomas B. Owley3 and
  4. Bennett L. Leventhal4

Published Online: 30 MAR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781119962229.ch21

Clinical Child Psychiatry, Third Edition

Clinical Child Psychiatry, Third Edition

How to Cite

Tobe, R., Kim, Y. S., Owley, T. B. and Leventhal, B. L. (2012) The Autistic Spectrum Disorders, in Clinical Child Psychiatry, Third Edition (eds W. M. Klykylo and J. Kay), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781119962229.ch21

Editor Information

  1. 5

    Department of Psychiatry, Wright State University School of Medicine, 627 S. Edwin C Moses Blvd, P.O. Box 927, Dayton, OH 45401-0927, USA

  2. 6

    Department of Psychiatry, Wright State University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 927, Dayton, OH 45401-0927, USA

Author Information

  1. 1

    Outpatient Research Department, Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY, USA

  2. 2

    Yale University Child Study Center, Nieson-Irving Harris Blvd., 230 S. Frontage Road, I-379, New Haven, CT 06519, USA

  3. 3

    Institute for Juvenile Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1747 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60608, USA

  4. 4

    Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research (NKI), 140 Old Orangeburg Road, Bldg 35, Orangeburg, NY 10962, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 MAR 2012
  2. Published Print: 30 MAR 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119993346

Online ISBN: 9781119962229



  • autism spectrum disorder (ASD);
  • Rett's disorder;
  • childhood disintegrative disorder;
  • Asperger's disorder;
  • pervasive developmental disorder;
  • stereotyped movement;
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI);
  • anticonvulsant


This chapter describes the autistic spectrum disorders – now regarded as a group of clinical syndromes with varying degrees of two fundamental elements: developmental delays and developmental deviations. The core syndrome includes deficits in social interactions and communication, along with presence of stereotyped behaviors, activities, and interests. The prototypic ASD is autistic disorder. The other ASDs, including Rett's disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger's disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD NOS), share many of the core features of autistic disorder. Autism spectrum disorder has had a long and complex history that has paralleled the evolution of psychiatry. The contemporary notion is of a genetic disorder with environmental influences; however, a specific etiology and treatments for the underlying pathophysiology have yet to be discovered. ASD is a relatively common condition, with a prevalence of 2–3%. The clinical picture is complex with early onset and a range of severity from mild to severe with impairments in the domains of social, communicative, and flexible/adaptive behavior. The diagnosis can be made reliably and validly. Treatment is possible and leads to successful outcomes if it includes a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach that focuses on development of adaptive, social, and communicative functioning. Promising research is leading to a clearer picture of the ASD phenotype, and current studies are providing new insights into the neurobiology of this group of pervasive developmental disorders.