Autism and developmental profiles in preschoolers: stability and change over time

Hedvall, Å., Westerlund, J., Fernell, E., Holm, A., Gillberg, C. and Billstedt, E. (2014) Autism and developmental profiles in preschoolers: stability and change over time. Acta Paediatrica, 103(2), pp. 174-181. (doi: 10.1111/apa.12455) (PMID:24237479)

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Abstract

Aim: Increasing numbers of young children are now being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study aimed to analyse developmental trajectories in a representative group of preschool children with ASD. Method: In a naturalistic study, 208 preschool children with different subtypes of ASD were followed over a 2-year period. Their trajectories, as regards persistence of ASD diagnoses, developmental/intellectual levels, adaptive functioning and expressive speech, were monitored. Results: Developmental profiles showed considerable change over time, especially in children with atypical autism and in those with developmental delay/borderline intellectual functioning at their first assessment. Approximately 50% of the children were found to have intellectual disability (ID) at follow-up and, of these, the majority had severe ID. This was in contrast to the first assessment by the referral team when ID had rarely been mentioned or discussed. Conclusion: Changes in developmental profiles during preschool years are common in children with ASD. This implies that reassessments, covering different developmental areas, are needed. Such follow-up assessments prior to the start of school will yield a more valid estimation of the child's general cognitive level and a more accurate ASD diagnosis and thus form a better basis for realistic educational planning and intervention.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gillberg, Professor Christopher
Authors: Hedvall, Å., Westerlund, J., Fernell, E., Holm, A., 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:Acta Paediatrica
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0803-5253
ISSN (Online):1651-2227
Published Online:18 November 2013

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