, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 954-960,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 30 Jun 2011

Adaptive Response of Children and Adolescents with Autism to the 2009 Earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy


The literature offers no descriptions of the adaptive outcomes of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) after natural disasters. Aim of this study was to evaluate the adaptive behaviour of participants with ASD followed for 1 year after their exposure to the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila (Italy) compared with an unexposed peer group with ASD, by administering the Italian form of the Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales (VABS) at baseline, 6 months and 1 year after the earthquake. Exposed participants declined dramatically in their adaptive behaviour during the first months after the earthquake (p < 0.01 for all VABS dimensions). However, immediate intensive post-disaster intervention allowed children and adolescents with autism showing a trend towards partial recovery of adaptive functioning.

This work is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Michele Iavagnilio, caregiver of the Centre for Autism in L’Aquila, who died on April 6, 2009 in consequence of the earthquake.