Intended for healthcare professionals

Clinical Review

Diagnosis of autism

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 28 August 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:488

Re: Autistic Spectrum Disorder is a DIRTY Diagnostic Category

Dr P V Finn Cosgrove writes that:

“What matters as regards the Diagnosis of Autism is that research
into Autism can only take place, and research can only advance the
treatment of this disorder, if and only if it is AUTISM which is being
studied and not Autistic Spectrum Disorders.”

As I have pointed out before, there is a difference between autism of
genetic origin (classical autism) and autistic spectrum disorder, or
whatever other notation is used to encompass the disability caused by
brain damage to the centres in the brain that then bring about some of the
symptoms of autism.

Another concern is the idea that autism of whichever sort needs to be
‘treated’ at all. I cannot understand how the basic condition is
treatable. Co-morbidities that arise may well require treatment, but in my
view the original condition is untreatable. Has anyone ever been able to
‘treat’ autism successfully?

Competing interests:
Father of daughter with brain-damage-induced autism

Competing interests: No competing interests

28 April 2004
Alan Challoner
LL18 5UR