Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 187-196

First online:

A comparative evaluation of adaptive behavior in children and adolescents with autism, Down syndrome, and normal development

  • James R. RodrigueAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical and Health Psychology, JHMHC, University of Florida
  • , Sam B. MorganAffiliated withMemphis State University
  • , Gary R. GeffkenAffiliated withUniversity of Florida

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The adaptive behaviors of 20 autistic, 20 Down syndrome, and 20 developmentally normal children were compared using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale. Unlike previous studies, we included a comparison group of very young normally developing children and matched subjects on overall adaptive behavior as well as several pertinent demographic characteristics. Findings revealed that, relative to children with Down syndrome or normal development, autistic children displayed significant and pervasive deficits in the acquisition of adaptive social skills, and greater variability in adaptive skills. These findings underscore the need to longitudinally assess the development of socialization in autistic children and further highlight the utility of the Vineland in operationally defining the nature of social dysfunction in autistic children.