The autistic spectrum: From theory to practice
The autistic spectrum: From theory to practice

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

The autistic spectrum: From theory to practice

5.4 Section summary

  • Twin and family studies provide strong evidence for genetic influences in ASDs, and for a spectrum ranging from classic autism to subtle borderline symptoms.

  • One model linking genetic influences to organic dysfunction sees genetic influences as triggering a single causal chain; another suggests that organic dysfunction may occur independently and add to or interact with genetic vulnerability.

  • Evidence for brain and neuronal dysfunction ranges from non-specific EEG findings to neuropsychological and fMRI data highlighting specific brain areas, including the frontal and temporal lobes, cerebellum, limbic system and amygdala.

  • The amygdala model of autism suggests links between findings at biological and socio-cognitive levels, but is currently speculative.

  • Impaired social interactions between the infant and his/her caregiver may have a detrimental effect on organic functioning.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has nearly 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus