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The Biology of the Autistic Syndromes, 3rd Edition

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    The Biology of the Autistic Syndromes, 3rd Edition. By christopher gillberg and mary coleman (Pp 330, £60.00). Published by MacKeith Press, London, 2000. ISBN 1 898 68322 0.

    The field of autism research has been growing very fast in the past decade. The book reflects the increasing need to understand the complexity of medical findings on the biological basis of the autistic syndromes. The authors provide the readers with a useful framework in which much emphasis is placed on autism as a disease with many causes and a wide range of clinical presentation. A great deal more is known than at the time of writing of the second edition (1992), and this new edition reflects the update at all levels. It is a comprehensive reference book as well as stimulating reading for various disciplines as such as electrophysiology, neuropathology, and brain imaging: currently available studies are summarised and discussed pinpointing limitations and suggesting new relevant questions. The chapter on genetics has been extensively rewritten, and even the lay reader will find useful information about the development of understanding genetic components of autism.

    Practising clinicians working with patients affected by the syndrome will find of particular interest the chapters outlining the clinical picture of autism developing from infancy to adulthood, in addition to those discussing the relation of autism with medical diseases and the phenomenon of comorbidity. Different diagnostic criteria for Asperger syndrome are discussed, and clear guidelines are given for early screening of infants.

    I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed by reading this book and, in particular, cognitive psychologists will be flattered by the claim that “the most interesting constructs of the whole field of autism have been generated by cognitive psychologists”.

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