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Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 749–759 | Cite as

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in Blind Children: Very High Prevalence, Potentially Better Outlook

  • Rubin JureEmail author
  • Ramón Pogonza
  • Isabelle Rapin
Original Paper

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders affected 19 of 38 unselected children at a school for the blind in Cordoba, Argentina. Autism was linked to total congenital blindness, not blindness’ etiology, acquired or incomplete blindness, sex, overt brain damage, or socioeconomic status. Autism “recovery,” had occurred in 4 verbal children. Congenital blindness causes profoundly deviant sensory experience and massive reorganization of brain connectivity. Its ≥30 times greater prevalence than in sighted children suggests a distinct pathogenesis. Unawareness of autism’s high prevalence in blind individuals includes blindness’ rarity, misunderstanding of autism as “disease” rather than dimensional behavioral diagnosis, reluctance to diagnose it in blind children, and ignorance of its potentially more favorable outcome. Future investigation may suggest interventions to prevent or mitigate it.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Autism recovery Autistic regression Blindisms Blindness Congenital blindness 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the parents who allowed their children to participate in the study and provided details of their past medical and behavioral histories. We acknowledge the help of the many professionals at the Instituto Helen Keller who opened the children’s records to us and provided invaluable information on the children’s abilities. We are grateful to Drs. Solomon Moshé, Roberto Tuchman, and Deborah Fein and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Author contribution

Dr. Rubin Jure, author, conceived, organized and carried out the clinical study, data collection and interpretation, and wrote early drafts of the manuscript. He collaborated with data analysis and intermediate draft revisions, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. Dr. Ramon Pogonza, co-author, designed and carried out the statistical analysis, contributed to intermediate draft revisions, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. Dr. Isabelle Rapin, co-author, contributed to the design of the clinical study, interpretation of the data, revised intermediate drafts, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro Privado de Neurología y Neuropsicología Infanto Juvenil WernickeCórdobaArgentina
  2. 2.UTI Hospital de Niños de la Santísima Trinidad de Córdoba; Cátedra de Informática MédicaUniversidad Nacional de CórdobaCórdobaArgentina
  3. 3.Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology, Department of Pediatrics, and Rose F. Kennedy Center for Research on Intellectual and Developmental DisabilityAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA

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