Asperger syndrome in males over two decades: stability and predictors of diagnosis

Helles, A., Gillberg, C. I., Gillberg, C. and Billstedt, E. (2015) Asperger syndrome in males over two decades: stability and predictors of diagnosis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(6), pp. 711-718. (doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12334) (PMID:25283685)

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Objective: To examine the diagnostic stability of a childhood diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome (AS) into adulthood in a prospective longitudinal study, and identify the predictors of stability. Methods: One hundred males with AS diagnosed in childhood (T0) according to Gillberg's AS criteria, were followed up prospectively into adulthood over an average of 19 years (range 13–26 years). Fifty males (mean age 30 years) participated in this second follow‐up (T2) of the cohort. Seventy‐six had participated in a previous follow‐up (T1) at mean age 22 years (47 participated in both follow‐ups). Diagnosis at T2 was assessed using three sets of diagnostic criteria (Gillberg's AS criteria, DSM‐IV Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and DSM‐5 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) criteria) and compared to previous assessments. Background predictors of diagnostic stability were analyzed. General functioning at T2 was assessed and compared to T1. Results: There was a decline in the stability of AS diagnosis over time, the rate dropping from 82% at T1 to 44% at T2, when using the Gillberg criteria. There was also a significant decrease in the rate of cases fulfilling any PDD diagnosis according to the DSM‐IV, from 91% at T1 to 76% at T2 in the 47 cases followed up twice. Severity of autism spectrum symptoms at T1 was the main predictor of diagnostic stability at T2. Twenty percent of those meeting criteria for a PDD diagnosis according to DSM‐IV, did not meet DSM‐5 ASD criteria although they had marked difficulties in everyday life. Conclusion: Asperger Syndrome, when considered as an ASD/PDD diagnosis, was fairly stable into adulthood, but there was a significant increase over time in cases no longer meeting criteria for an ASD diagnosis according to the DSM‐IV, or AS according to the Gillberg criteria. Cases with a stable diagnosis showed significantly more core ASD symptoms in adolescence/young adulthood.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding Information: Centre for Research and Development in Gavleborg ; Child and Adolescent Habilitation Clinic in Gavle ; VG Region Scientific Fund ; Jerring Fund ; Wilhelm and Martina Lundgren Foundation ; Petter Silfverskiold Foundation ; Golje Foundation ; AnnMarie and Per Ahlqvist Foundation ; Swedish Child Neuropsychiatry Science Foundation ; Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gillberg, Professor Christopher
Authors: Helles, A., Gillberg, C. I., Gillberg, C., and Billstedt, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
ISSN (Online):1469-7610
Published Online:04 October 2014

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