The ESSENCE of Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Condition: Rethinking Co-Morbidities, Assessment and Intervention


ESSENCE (Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examinations) refers to the group of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, ADHD, and tic disorders, as well as some other conditions. Professor Gillberg has spent over 45 years conducting extensive clinical and research work in this field and has published over 700 scientific papers and many books. He makes a case for recognising that syndromes are rarely ‘pure’ and that, for example, 85% of school children with ADHD meet the criteria for at least one other learning/communication. Psychiatric, neurological or medical disorder diagnosis.

In this book, Gillberg devotes individual chapters to syndromes including:

  • ADHD, Inattention, Impulsivity and Restlessness
  • Autism
  • Speech and Language Disorders
  • Selective Mutism
  • Avoidant Restrictive Intake Disorder (ARFID)
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED)

Gillberg proposes that ESSENCE should be considered a public health problem and that families should have access to ‘one-stop shops’ where they can come into contact with specialists across the entire ESSENCE field, and with close collaboration with paediatric and school health services, as well as social services. Whereas he agrees that a main diagnosis can be made, it should almost always be framed by additional diagnoses that then inform interventions and support.  He also recommends strategies for informing children and teenagers about their diagnosis,with the aim of developing self-awareness about individual difficulties, as well as strengths. 

This book demonstrates the author’s belief in whole-person assessments and interventions, and he makes a strong case for this approach.

Author: C. Gillberg
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN: 978-1-78775-439-3
Price: £18.99

Mary Mountstephen
Author: Mary Mountstephen

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