In December, in an editorial published in the journal Trends in Neuroscience, Eric London brought a megaphone to a provocative question that has been whispered among researchers in the field for years: Does the term ‘autism’ really hold value? In a follow-up Q&A on our site, London clarified his argument: “It would be great if categorical diagnosis worked, but it doesn’t.” However, if we doaway with autism as a diagnostic term, what should replace it? We asked several scientists with expertise in basic research, translational medicine, clinical research and policy to weigh in on the topic.
Director, National Institute of Mental Health
Clinical Director for Research, Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University in Atlanta
Senior Lecturer, University College London
Director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
A single diagnostic bucket is problematic
Thomas Insel, a physician and neuroscientist, is director of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
We need common ground across clinical, scientific domains
Celine Saulnier is clinical director for research of the Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University inAtlanta, where she is also assistant professor of pediatrics.
There is value in a diagnosis of autism
William Mandy is senior lecturer at University College London, where he practices clinically and conducts research. Much of his work focuses on how autism is best conceptualized.
Current categories are both too narrow and too broad
Steven Hyman is director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, as well as Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology.