Autism-Europe is a European network o national, regional and local organisations o parents representingall persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and notably those who are not able to representthemselves.
The aim o Autism Europe is to raise awareness across Europe o the undamental rightsand needs o individuals with ASD, and to do so by promoting positive actions and policies.This document* responds to one o the undertakings o Autism Europe to the European Commission,i.e., to publish evidence based data derived rom European and international research which maylead to a positive impact on the everyday lives o individuals with ASD.
Scientic evidence now conrms that ASD are pervasive and lie long disorders, which afect thedeveloping brain and which are apparent rom inancy onwards. ASD is characterised by a triad o symptoms: impairments in social interactions; impairments in communication; and restricted interestsand repetitive behaviour. The maniestations o ASD cover a wide spectrum, and the condition can afectindividuals who are severely intellectually impaired as well as those who are o average or above averageIQ. ASD has a strong inherited basis, although the genetics are complex and are ar rom being ullyunderstood. It is becoming evident that ASD may result rom multigene interactions or rom spontaneousmutations in genes with major efects but the interaction between genetic and environmental actors isan area requiring much more intensive research.In 2008, scientic evidence indicates that there are very many diferent possible genetic, medical andneurological causes o ASD. Although some reports o possible causes are controversial, the aim o Autism Europe is to provide high quality inormation that truly advances the understanding o ASD. Forinstance, there is no scientic evidence showing a causal association between autism and vaccination;rates o early gastrointestinal disorders prior to diagnosis are not higher in children with ASD than in thegeneral population; there are no diferences in the urinary proles o children with ASD and a recentgroup control study does not justiy the use o casein and gluten exclusion diets.
Autism Europe wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the authors o this document. Thework generously achieved by these internationally renowned proessionals will permit a betterunderstanding o ASD and the needs o those afected by this condition. This document is destinednot only or parents but also or all proessionals who are involved in interventions or personswith ASD, and or European and national authorities responsible or the care o individuals withdisabilities.
* This document is an update o the Description o Autism published by Autism-Europe in 2000. The authors have not received anyhonoraries or this commissioned work. Autism Europe has not inuenced the content o this document.
FOREWORD OF AUTISM EUROPE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE