, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 1-11
Date: 12 Jan 2007

The Very Early Autism Phenotype

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Introduction

In this editorial preface, we first describe the historical roots of this special issue. We then introduce the papers, all of which focus on the very early phenotype of autism and the broad autism phenotype. Some of the papers in this volume include studies on the very youngest children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD),

In this paper, we use the term ASD to collectively refer to children meeting criteria for Autistic Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. When a distinction between these conditions is important, the specific term is used.

while in other papers the focus is on infant siblings of children with autism. Next, we discuss some methodological and clinical issues pertaining to the studies. We end by considering the ethics involved in these kinds of studies, their implications for prevention and intervention, and possible future directions.

Historical Roots

In the mid-1980s, Marian Sigman, while on sabbatical in Europe, spo