, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 159-186

Autism and pervasive developmental disorders: Concepts and diagnostic issues

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The purpose of this report is to bring up to date available information on the defining features and diagnostic issues relating to autism and related disorders. We review the validity of the syndrome based on our last review (Rutter, 1978; Schopler, 1978). Subsequent data have produced refinement in our understanding of both diagnostic criteria and the nature of the basic deficit. Controversies over both the boundaries and the heterogeneity within the autism syndrome are evaluated according to available evidence. Diagnostic rating instruments for expediting systematic sample selection are critiqued, and leads for new research directions are suggested.

This paper was originally prepared for an NIMH Research Workshop to examine research issues in relation to the assessment, diagnosis, and classification of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. Adapted with permission from M. Rutter, A. H. Tuma, & I. Lann,The Assessment and Diagnosis of Child and Adolescent Psychology, Guilford Press, New York, in press.