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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2011, Article ID 545901, 19 pages
Review Article

The Broader Autism Phenotype and Its Implications on the Etiology and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders

1Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

Received 11 August 2010; Revised 13 March 2011; Accepted 9 May 2011

Academic Editor: Connie Kasari

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer Gerdts and Raphael Bernier. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The presence of autism-related traits has been well documented in undiagnosed family members of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The most common finding is mild impairments in social and communication skills that are similar to those shown by individuals with autism, but exhibited to a lesser degree. Termed the broader autism phenotype (BAP), these traits suggest a genetic liability for autism-related traits in families. Genetic influence in autism is strong, with identical twins showing high concordance for the diagnosis and related traits and approximately 20% of all ASD cases having an identified genetic mechanism. This paper highlights the studies conducted to date regarding the BAP and considers the implications of these findings for the etiology and treatment of ASD.