Recommendations for early diagnosis and intervention in autism spectrum disorders: an Italian-Israeli consensus conference

Date Published:

2014 Mar


On April 2013 experts in the field of autism from Italy and Israel convened in Jerusalem to discuss and finalize clinical recommendations for early diagnosis and intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). In this paper, we summarize the results of this Italian-Israeli consensus conference. ASDs constitute a class of severe and heterogeneous neurodevelopmental conditions caused by atypical brain development beginning during early prenatal life, reflecting many genetic, neurobiological and environmental influences. The first clinical signs of ASDs begin to be evident in children between 12 and 18 months of age, often after a period of relatively typical postnatal development. Recent longitudinal studies reveal substantial diversity in developmental trajectories through childhood and adolescence. Some intervention approaches have been demonstrated to be effective in improving core symptoms of ASDs, even if the heterogeneity and developmental nature of the disorder make it implausible that only one specific treatment will be best for all children with ASDs. More randomized control trials (RCTs) on early intervention are needed to identify the most effective strategies and provide the most efficient allocation of resources during the critical early intervention time period. Future research should focus on linking biological phenotypes with specific genotypes, thus establishing a foundation for the development of diagnostic screening tools and individualization of treatments.