The concept of autism continues to evolve. Not only have the central diagnostic criteria that define autism evolved but understanding of the label and how autism is viewed in research, clinical and sociological terms has also changed. Several key issues have emerged in relation to research, clinical and sociological aspects of autism. Shifts in research focus to encompass the massive heterogeneity covered under the label and appreciation that autism rarely exists in a diagnostic vacuum have brought about new questions and challenges. Diagnostic changes, increasing moves towards early diagnosis and intervention, and a greater appreciation of autism in girls and women and into adulthood and old age have similarly impacted on autism in the clinic. Discussions about autism in socio-political terms have also increased, as exemplified by the rise of ideas such as neurodiversity and an increasingly vocal dialogue with those diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Such changes are to be welcomed, but at the same time bring with them new challenges. Those changes also offer an insight into what might be further to come for the label of autism.
Keywords: autism; clinical; future; knowledge; research; sociological.
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