Welcome to this e-book dedicated to the 10th International Congress of the European association for Mental Health in Intellectual Disability. It is a varied issue, in alignment with the Congress main theme; the integration of different approaches in the neurodevelopmental perspective. This e-book includes an editorial on the relevance and implications of the neurodevelopmental perspective, five expert reviews on some main clinical issues, and a conceptual paper on the boundary between normal and pathological behaviour. The five expert reviews focus on assessment procedures and tools for identifying mental health problems co-occurring with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders, the differentiation between autism and schizophrenia spectrum disorders in those with intellectual disability, the new generation behavioural therapies for problem behaviours, and the psychopathological vulnerability of the persons with borderline intellectual functioning.
The first chapter by Bertelli offers a critical overview of some of the main implications of the neurodevelopmental perspective in the field of mental health in intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders. This perspective seems to be the most appropriate and valued conceptual framework to support multi-level, interdisciplinary, and life-span approaches in understanding the aetiologies of mental health problems as well as when and how to intervene.
The practice review by Underwood and colleagues provides readers with an evidence-based approach to the assessment process for adults with autism spectrum disorder. In this population the presentation of psychiatric symptoms is influenced by the underlying developmental disorder and often differs from the one of the general population, thus, making an accurate diagnosis is challenging.
In the third chapter Bertelli and Colleagues provide a comprehensive and updated description of current achievements and issues towards the assessment of psychiatric disorders in people with intellectual disability. A recurring issue is the overlap and boundary between autism spectrum and schizophrenia spectrum disorders, which is also faced in the fourth chapter; a comprehensive description of the most relevant differences in the clinical presentation of these two groups of disorders is afforded on the basis of a systematic mapping of the international literature.
In the fifth chapter, Leoni and colleagues present a general review of the new generation cognitive-behavioural therapies, debating on the applicability of these approaches to the broad spectrum of persons with neurodevelopmental disorders. Special attention is given to ACT and mindfulness, which seem to be particularly suitable for these special populations.
The next chapter is from Hassiotis and examines the developmental framework, prevalence, health comorbidities, treatment and service use of children and adults with borderline intellectual functioning and neurodevelopmental disorders. This group are often lost in the health system and may not receive appropriate care given their unique clinical profile, but the evidence summary indicates an increasing interest by the international scientific community, which will hopefully produce rapid service improvement.
In our final chapter Dosen and De Groef discuss the implications of the application of an emotional developmental perspective and insight of subjective experience on the determination of the pathological nature of problem behaviours, with an attempt to define criteria for a reliable differentiation with psychiatric disorders.
This e-book and the Congress it is dedicated to, exemplify how the neurodevelopmental perspective is currently the most appropriate and valued conceptual framework to explain relations across systems and to localise positive and pathological adaptation in the transactional relations between the biological mechanisms of the brain, their psychological functions and the external environment."
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