Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 241-257

First online:

Autism Research: Lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future

  • Michael RutterAffiliated withSGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry Email author 

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The paper uses both the author’s experience of research training, and the empirical studies of autism in which he participated over the last 40-plus years, to derive research lessons and to consider the needs and prospects for future research. Attention is drawn to: the importance of mentors; the need to use technologies in a hypothesis-testing fashion; the important of possible creative/innovative leaps and of recognition of the unexpected; the need to ask challenging questions and to recognize when the original ideas were mistaken. There is great value in broadening the scientific strategies used to investigate a particular condition and much is to be gained by deliberately seeking parallels with other conditions.


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