Autism: Neural Basis and Treatment Possibilities

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Novartis Foundation ChlchesterlWlley; 2003; HB 75.00 (ISBN 0 470 85099 )

The concept of autism has altered drastically over the years. It is only now that the neural basis of the disorder is being examined in more
detail. In this Novartis Foundation Symposium four predominant areas of
this premise are being tackled. Incorporating twin and family studies, brain
imaging, psychological deficits in children with autism, treatments and
interventions, this comprehensive collection provides a critical
examination of the pathophysiology of autism.

The exploration begins with a useful introduction by Michael Rutter
outlining the historical background of autism, followed by a broad summary
of the primary areas to be examined. This is followed by a sequence of
papers and discussions on heritability, the increase in diagnosis,
neuropathology, neurobiology, immunology, and drug treatments.
A range of distinguished scientists provide a wide spectrum of views
about findings, their validity, and their implications for future use.

This was a compelling read, signalling promising directions for future
investigation.The discursive passages could be disjointed at times, mainly
due to their breadth of content and shift of focus; but Rutter’s concise
summary overcame this, drawing the varied perspectives together.
In summary, this book is well structured and an easy read – essential for professionals, academics and students who are interested in autism and its treatment.

Gemma F. Webb is a residential social worker with Surrey County Council.

Copyright British Psychological Society Jan 2004

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