edited by Andrew W. Zimmerman, 474 pp, with illus, $139, ISBN 160327488X, Totowa, New Jersey, Humana Press, 2008.
Autism has garnered much popular, scientific, and charitable attention of late for good reason. This heterogeneous, behaviorally diagnosed syndrome has been a medical mystery of great individual and societal impact for decades. This latest volume in the Current Clinical Neurology series thoroughly captures the many different theories developed from as many different scientific points of view.
In his preface, editor Zimmerman accurately notes the need to move beyond hypotheses and to integrate existing scientific evidence into cohesive theories of cause and effect in autism. In 6 sections and 20 chapters, the reader is taken on quite a journey into many disciplines, from clinical genetics, to neurotransmitter systems, endocrinology, immunology, neuroanatomy, and cognitive systems theory. As we reach each individual destination, each has a base of evidence built into a partial foundation for the emerging theories of autism. Because these are still early days for autism research, the depth is more apparent in some chapters than others. Some theories will inevitably turn out to be built on a foundation of sand, while others will sustain the test of time as firm and productive.
Autism: Current Theories and Evidence. Arch Neurol. 2010;67(7):895. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2010.121