From Asperger's Autistischen Psychopathen to DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorder and Beyond: A Subthreshold Autism Spectrum Model

Liliana Dell’Ossoa, Riccardo Dalle Luchea, Camilla Gesi*, a, Ilenia Moronia, Claudia Carmassia, Mario Majb
a Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa, Italy
b Department of Psychiatry, University of Naples SUN, Largo Madonna delle Grazie 1, 80138 Naples, Italy

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© Dell’Osso et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access articles licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided that the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa, Italy; Tel: +39 340 860 2160; Fax: +39 050 22 19 787; E-mail:


Growing interest has recently been devoted to partial forms of autism, lying at the diagnostic boundaries of those conditions previously diagnosed as Asperger’s Disorder. This latter includes an important retrieval of the European classical psychopathological concepts of adult autism to which Hans Asperger referred in his work. Based on the review of Asperger's Autistische Psychopathie, from first descriptions through the DSM-IV Asperger’s Disorder and up to the recent DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorder, the paper aims to propose a Subthreshold Autism Spectrum Model that encompasses not only threshold-level manifestations but also mild/atypical symptoms, gender-specific features, behavioral manifestations and personality traits associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This model includes, but is not limited to, the so-called broad autism phenotype spanning across the general population that does not fully meet Autism Spectrum Disorder criteria. From this perspective, we propose a subthreshold autism as a unique psychological/behavioral model for research that could help to understand the neurodevelopmental trajectories leading from autistic traits to a broad range of mental disorders.

Keywords: Asperger's disorder, AdAS spectrum, Autism spectrum disorder, DSM-5, Neuroatypicality, Subthreshold autism spectrum.