European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 67–78

Autistic disorder versus other pervasive developmental disorders in young children: same or different?

Authors

  • D. A. Allen
    • Division of Child Psychiatry Department of Psychiatry Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx NY, USA
  • M. Steinberg
    • Department of Psychology Marymount College, Tarrytown NY, USA
  • M. Dunn
    • Department of Neurology Rose F. Kennedy Center for Research in Mental Retardation and Human Development Albert Einstein College of Medicine 1300 Morris Park Avenue Bronx NY 10461, USA
  • D. Fein
    • Department of Psychology University of Connecticut Storrs CT, USA
  • C. Feinstein
    • Division of Child Psychiatry Department of Psychiatry Stanford University Medical School Stanford CA, USA
  • L. Waterhouse
    • Child Behavior Study The College of New Jersey Trenton NJ, USA
  • I. Rapin
    • Department of Neurology Rose F. Kennedy Center for Research in Mental Retardation and Human Development Albert Einstein College of Medicine 1300 Morris Park Avenue Bronx NY 10461, USA
ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTION

DOI: 10.1007/s007870170049

Cite this article as:
Allen, D., Steinberg, M., Dunn, M. et al. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2001) 10: 67. doi:10.1007/s007870170049

Abstract

Eighteen preschool children diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Third Edition Revised (DSM III-R) as having Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) were compared to 176 children with DSM III-R Autistic Disorder (AD), and to 311 non-autistic children with developmental language disorders (DLD) (N = 201) or low IQ (N = 110). All children were partitioned into “high” and “low” cognitive subgroups at a nonverbal IQ of 80. Within cognitive subgroups, the 18 PDD-NOS children did not differ significantly from either the DLD or the AD children in verbal and adaptive skills and obtained scores intermediate between those of these groups. The PDD-NOS did not differ from the AD children in maladaptive behaviors. Both the PDD-NOS and AD children had many more of these behaviors than the non-autistic comparison groups. Children in the “high” and “low” cognitive subgroups of AD, but not of PDD-NOS, differed substantially on most measures, with the children with lower cognitive scores significantly more impaired on all measures. Similarity of PDD-NOS children to AD children in maladaptive behaviors and an intermediate position between autistic and non-autistic groups on virtually all measures explains the difficulty clinicians encounter in classifying children with PDD and raises questions about the specificity of these diagnostic subtypes of the autistic spectrum.

Key words Autismsubgroupsdiagnosisspecificitycognition

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2001