Participants included 60 four-year-old children,. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Each group participated in a different activity for the duration of nine minutes. The first group watched “a very popular fantastical cartoon about an animated sponge that lives under the sea,” clearly referring to SpongeBob SquarePants. The second group watched “a realistic Public Broadcasting Service cartoon about a typical US preschool-aged boy,” rumored to be Caillou. Finally, the third group colored with crayons and markers. Immediately following the activity, participants were administered a number of tasks that measured executive function.
While these are very real concerns, they do not take away from the scientific evidence that the disorder is best described as falling along a spectrum and that the APA’s revised diagnostic criteria likely offers a more accurate clinical definition of the disorder. As we move forward with the revised diagnostic criteria, we will surely run into obstacles; however, in the long run I believe we will have a much more clinically useful definition of autism. I am interested in hearing what you have to say on the matter. What are your thoughts on the APA’s revised diagnostic criteria?