Objective: Autism is a syndrome with a number of etiologies with differing mechanisms that lead to abnormal development. This review highlights the need to identify autism subgroups as they each might require unique approaches for prevention or treatment. Methods: Targeting treatments to specific mechanisms and utilizing biomarkers can more rapidly advance our understanding of how to classify and treat autism subgroups based on translational mechanisms. We illustrate this approach using mechanisms that may influence the course of autism and provide rationale for selected biomarkers that could guide treatments targeted anywhere from DNA to symptom expression. Conclusions: The use of potential biomarkers that point to specific mechanisms of disordered neurodevelopment will help identify meaningful subtypes of autism and will help tailor treatment or prevention strategies for each mechanism rather than solely to a symptom category.
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