Clinical Research

The Alan and Lorraine Bressler Clinical and Research Program for Autism Spectrum Disorders is dedicated to improving the clinical care of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, to advance the education of patients, families and service providers about these conditions, and to expand the scientific understanding of these disorders

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What to expect

About Autism

Autism spectrum disorder is a constellation of psychological conditions characterized by difficulty with social interactions, communication, and behavioral skills. Autism spectrum disorders include autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). Recent estimates suggest that autism spectrum disorders may affect as many as one in 100 children.

How can I recognize a person with ASD?Some children show signs and symptoms very early; many are not diagnosed until they enter school. They may exhibit many or only a few of the characteristic ASD traits, and these behaviors may be mild or pronounced. Characteristic ASD behaviors include:

  • Difficulty with peer relationships
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of reciprocal behavior (one-sided conversations, monologues)
  • Increased need for reassurance
  • Preoccupation with objects or activities
    such as video games, Internet surfing
  • Overreaction to small situations
  • Organizational difficulties
  • Physical clumsiness
  • Difficulties with transitions and changes in routine
  • Desire for sameness

What can parents and teachers do if they suspect a child has one of the autism spectrum disorders?Parents and teachers are often the first to notice signs and symptoms of these disorders. It is important to seek evaluation as early as possible, because early intervention can have a beneficial effect in reducing symptoms and improving the child’s ability to learn and function.


Screening tools for assessing ASD


Autistic Disorder

Autistic disorder (also called autism; more recently described as "mindblindedness") is a neurological and developmental disorder that usually appears during the first three years of life.





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U.S. News & World Report ranks Mass General psychiatry second among U.S. hospitals.

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