The level of debate over autism spectrum disorder belies its relatively short history among recognized diagnoses. Since the first US use of the term in the 1940s, much disagreement has been voiced about its causes, whether it is an illness or a feature of our neurodiversity, and how best to support those who have the diagnosis. Contributors to the April issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics explain current and historical perspectives on these contested issues. We are also pleased to have a sample of artwork by people with autism in this issue.
In treating children with autism, physicians should reframe the common dynamic in which the family wants medication that the doctor is withholding to focus instead on the family’s and physician’s share goal—the patient’s well-being.
AMA J Ethics. 2015;17(4):299-304. doi:
A judicious approach to autism would be to replace a “disability” or “illness” paradigm with a “diversity” perspective that takes into account both strengths and weaknesses and the idea that variation can be positive in and of itself.
AMA J Ethics. 2015;17(4):348-352. doi: