, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 213-225

A follow-up study of high-functioning autistic children

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It is well known that IQ is an important prognostic variable in the outcome of autistic children. There are, however, very few data available on the outcome of nonretarded autistic children as adults. We identified 16 such probands from records and followed them up between 11 and 27 years since discharge from a center specializing in the assessment of autistic children. There were 12 males and 4 females, average age was 26, and mean IQ was 92 (range 68–110). Although the majority were functioning poorly in terms of occupational-social outcome and psychiatric symptoms, a surprising number (4) had a very good outcome and might be considered recovered. The severity of early autistic behavior was a poor predictor of outcome, but neuropsychologic measures of nonverbal problem solving were highly correlated with outcomes. The results of the study indicate that a small percentage of nonretarded autistic children can be expected to recover to a substantial degree.

We are very grateful to the staff of the West End Creche, Toronto, Ontario for all their help in conducting this study. Special thands must go to Dr. Milada Havelkova, without whose support and assistance the study could not have been completed. The project was funded by the Medical Research Council of Canada, and Dr. Szatmari was supported by the Council under the Fellowship program.