Risk and resilience in autism spectrum disorder: a missed translational opportunity?
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The objective of this review is to provide a narrative summary of risk and resiliency in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) over the lifespan. In recent years, much has been learned about risk factors for ASD which include both genetic and environmental mechanisms. Resiliency in ASD is much less studied but examples can be gleaned by exploring studies that allow for heterogeneity in causation and outcome. Possible examples come from the literature on sex difference, infant siblings, and natural history. Exciting translational opportunities can be achieved through a greater focus on understanding protective factors and resiliency in ASD than the field's almost exclusive focus on risk factors and the ability to predict poor outcomes. Although the exact nature of processes that protect in ASD are not yet known, putting a resiliency lens on research and clinical practice may prove illuminating. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: Resiliency in autism spectrum disorder is a function of the vast variation seen in etiology and outcome. A focus on strengthening protective factors may improve long-term outcome.
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