This year, researchers unearthed clues to the causes of autism — and how to treat it —from a variety of sources.
Advances in tiny models of the human brain bared new details about the biology of autism and provided possible platforms for testing therapies. Studies of heart rate put a spotlight on the autonomic nervous system as a potential wellspring of autism traits. And others forged a controversial connection between the gut microbiome and autism.
A few studies revealed important information about the time points at which different forms of autism are amenable to therapy. This year also saw scrutiny of tests used for screening and diagnosis, revealing gaps and limitations in the system for identifying autistic children.
Here are the year’s top five topics in autism research.