Autism in community pre-schoolers: developmental profiles.Res Dev Disabil. 2013 Sep; 34(9):2900-8.RD
Autism is often a complex developmental disorder. The aim of the present study was to describe the developmental characteristics of 129 1-4-year-old children (102 boys, 27 girls) referred for clinical assessment (mean age 2.9 years) due to suspicion of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) after community screening at Child Health Care centers. All children were clinically assessed at the Child Neuropsychiatry Clinic (CNC) in Gothenburg by a research team (neurodevelopmental examination, structured interviews and general cognitive and language examinations). Of the 129 children, 100 met diagnostic criteria for ASD (69 with autistic disorder, and 31 with atypical autism/pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified). The remaining 29 children had a variety of developmental disorders, most often attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), language disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, and intellectual developmental disorder (IDD) with (n=25) or without (n=4) autistic traits (AT). IDD was found in 36% of the 100 children with ASD, and in 4% of the 25 children with AT. Of the children with ASD, 56% had language disorder with no or just a few words at the initial assessment at the CNC, many of whom in combination with IDD. Hyperactivity was found in 37% of those with ASD and in 40% of those with AT. Epilepsy was found in 6% of the total group and in 7% of those with a diagnosis of ASD. Of the latter group 11% had a history of regression, while none of the AT cases had a similar background. When results were compared with a non-screened preschool ASD group of 208 children, referred for ASD intervention at a mean age of 3.4 years, very similar developmental profiles were seen. In conclusion, early community ASD screening appears to systematically identify those children who are in need of intervention and follow-up.