Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 161-174

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Early Childhood Predictors of the Social Competence of Adults with Autism

  • Kristen Gillespie-LynchAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California Email author 
  • , Leigh SepetaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of CaliforniaDepartment of Neuropsychology, Children’s National Medical Center
  • , Yueyan WangAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California
  • , Stephanie MarshallAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of California
  • , Lovella GomezAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of California
  • , Marian SigmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of CaliforniaDepartment of Psychiatry, University of California
  • , Ted HutmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of California

Abstract

Longitudinal research into adult outcomes in autism remains limited. Unlike previous longitudinal examinations of adult outcome in autism, the twenty participants in this study were evaluated across multiple assessments between early childhood (M = 3.9 years) and adulthood (M = 26.6 years). In early childhood, responsiveness to joint attention (RJA), language, and intelligence were assessed. In adulthood, the parents of participants responded to interviews assessing the adaptive functioning, autistic symptomology and global functioning of their children. RJA and early childhood language predicted a composite measure of adult social functioning and independence. Early childhood language skills and intelligence predicted adult adaptive behaviors. RJA predicted adult non-verbal communication, social skills and symptoms. Adaptive behaviors changed with development, but symptoms of autism did not. Additional factors associated with adult outcomes are discussed.

Keywords

Autism Longitudinal Outcome Adulthood Social functioning