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Two researchers survey a landscape filled with autism research topics including neurons, DNA, drugs and animal models.

2022: The year in review

Take a look back at the year’s top developments in autism research and read about the field’s rising stars. Plus: Test your knowledge with our year-end quiz, and see which conferences we’re looking forward to in 2023.

From left to right, portraits of Grunya Sukhareva, Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner.

Special report: The new history of autism

For decades, two figures have dominated the history of autism studies. Today, newly excavated documents are calling into question the primacy of these men as founders of the field.

Trends in autism research 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, Spectrum recaps some of the biggest trends in autism science this year: studies of sex differences, noncoding regions of the genome and points of convergence, as well as efforts to improve screening and participatory research.

Illustration of a network of blue neurons overlaid with marijuana leaves.

Special report: How cannabis could shape future autism therapies

Cannabis-derived drugs are approved to treat only a small number of autism-related conditions, but many autistic people and their families experiment with medical marijuana to ease autism traits. In this special report, Spectrum rounds up what the science says about cannabis and autism.

A lighthearted, colorful, chaotic lab scene with fruit flies, worms peeking out of petri dishes, zebrafish in beakers and an octopus creeping out of a cabinet..

Special report: Unusual animal models of autism

In the past two decades, some autism researchers have turned to simple animals, such as roundworms, fruit flies and zebrafish, for their investigations. Others have sought answers from experiments with frogs, birds and even octopuses.

Young boy walks through doorway lit up with his area of interest.

Special Report: Autistic strengths and special interests

Social difficulties. Restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. Sensory sensitivity. Autism has long been defined by its challenges But autism sometimes comes with advantages. This special report highlights those advantages and describes the research behind them.

Illustration shows autistic teen stimming while a policeman reaches for handcuffs.

When autism and law enforcement meet

As many headlines attest, encounters between autistic people and first responders become fraught far too often, leading to violence and lasting trauma. In this special report, we explore what research tells us about these interactions and training to improve them, as well as the challenges autistic people experience in the criminal justice system.

lone researcher confronts the giant coronavirus from within the pillars of a crumbling institution

Autism and the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is altering autism research in unprecedented ways. It also has had a huge impact on the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.