Communication, interventions, and scientific advances in autism: A commentary

Danielle C. Llaneza, Susan V. DeLuke, Myra Batista, Jacqueline Crawley, Kristin V. Christodulu, Cheryl A. Frye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect approximately 1 in 150 children across the U.S., and are characterized by abnormal social actions, language difficulties, repetitive or restrictive behaviors, and special interests. ASD include autism (autistic disorder), Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS or atypical autism). High-functioning individuals may communicate with moderate-to-high language skills, although difficulties in social skills may result in communication deficits. Low-functioning individuals may have severe deficiencies in language, resulting in poor communication between the individual and others. Behavioral intervention programs have been developed for ASD, and are frequently adjusted to accommodate specific individual needs. Many of these programs are school-based and aim to support the child in the development of their skills, for use outside the classroom with family and friends. Strides are being made in understanding the factors contributing to the development of ASD, particularly the genetic contributions that may underlie these disorders. Mutant mouse models provide powerful research tools to investigate the genetic factors associated with ASD and its co-morbid disorders. In support, the BTBR T+tf/J mouse strain incorporates ASD-like social and communication deficits and high levels of repetitive behaviors. This commentary briefly reviews the reciprocal relationship between observations made during evidence-based behavioral interventions of high- versus low-functioning children with ASD and the accumulating body of research in autism, including animal studies and basic research models. This reciprocity is one of the hallmarks of the scientific method, such that research may inform behavioral treatments, and observations made during treatment may inform subsequent research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-276
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Behavior modeling
  • BTBR
  • Center for Autism and Related Disabilities
  • Communication
  • Education programs
  • Gender differences
  • Genetics
  • Language
  • Mice
  • Picture Exchange Communication System
  • Social
  • Translational research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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