A Comparison of Social and Adaptive Functioning in Persons with Psychosis, Autism, and Severe or Profound Mental Retardation

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Despite the findings that persons with mental retardation are several times more likely to experience mental health disorders than are persons of normal intelligence, relatively little is known about the nature of these disorders and related social and adaptive deficits. This situation is especially true for persons with severe and profound impairment who experience psychotic disorders. The purpose of this research was to examine the adaptive and social behavior of individuals with severe and profound mental retardation (MR) who are diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. Scores on measures of adaptive and social behavior for these individuals were compared to those of 2 other groups, both of whom had severe or profound MR, and who experienced mental health conditions commonly confused with psychotic disorders (e.g., autism/PDD, nondiagnostic behavior problems). Individuals in the psychotic disorders group displayed significantly higher levels of some social and many adaptive skills than did individuals in both control groups, with the most striking differences appearing between the psychotic disorders and autism/PDD groups. Results underscore the need to consider social and adaptive variables during the diagnostic and treatment planning process.