Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 151-161

First online:

Comparing Rates of Psychiatric and Behavior Disorders in Adolescents and Young Adults with Severe Intellectual Disability with and without Autism

  • Elspeth A. BradleyAffiliated withSurrey Place Centre and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
  • , Jane A. SummersAffiliated withHamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University
  • , Hayley L. WoodAffiliated withThe Hospital for Sick Children
  • , Susan E. BrysonAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics and Psychology, Dalhousie University

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Eight males and four females with an Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) diagnosis of autism (mean age of 16.3 years) and severe intellectual disability (IQ < 40) were individually matched to controls on the basis of chronological age, gender, and nonverbal IQ. The dependent measure was the Diagnostic Assessment for the Severely Handicapped-II, which is used to screen for psychiatric and behavior disorders in lower-functioning individuals. Participants with autism showed significantly greater disturbances as measured by the Diagnostic Assessment for the Severely Handicapped-II total score and seven of 13 subscales. They also averaged 5.25 clinically significant disturbances compared with 1.25 disturbances for participants without autism. Specific vulnerabilities to anxiety, mood, sleep, organic syndromes, and stereotypies/tics were found in the participants with comorbid autism.

Autism intellectual disability adolescence behavior and psychiatric disorders