The Broader Autism Phenotype and Its Implications on the Etiology and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders

The range of potential symptom profiles that can emerge from the varied deficits in social communication and behavior in ASD results in a complex behavioral presentation. The use of general, overarching diagnostic categories in complex psychiatric disorders such as ASD has often muddied genetic studies with these groups. Therefore, defining quantifiable components of the phenotype that are theoretically more closely tied to genetic vulnerability than a qualitative diagnosis helps to isolate traits for genetic and neurobiological analysis [133–135]. Investigations of component traits in biological relatives can also broaden our understanding of the complex systems that underlie social communicative behavior and offer insight into how these systems go awry in ASD. An interactive model of genetic, neurobiological, environmental, and protective factors may explain why significant deficits are present in affected children while only mild challenges are measurable in relatives. In depth examinations of the familiality of component traits provide a more complete picture of ASD’s etiology.

The Broader Autism Phenotype and Its Implications on the Etiology and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders

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