Autism Spectrum Disorder Reclassified: A Second Look at the 1980s Utah/UCLA Autism Epidemiologic Study

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to re-examine diagnostic data from a state-wide autism prevalence study (n = 489) conducted in the 1980s to investigate the impact of broader diagnostic criteria on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) case status. Sixty-four (59 %) of the 108 originally “Diagnosed Not Autistic” met the current ASD case definition. The average IQ estimate in the newly identified group (IQ = 35.58; SD = 23.01) was significantly lower than in the original group (IQ = 56.19 SD = 21.21; t = 5.75; p < .0001). Today’s diagnostic criteria applied to participants ascertained in the 1980s identified more cases of autism with intellectual disability. The current analysis puts this historic work into context and highlights differences in ascertainment between epidemiological studies performed decades ago and those of today.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported in part by grants from: the University of Utah Research Foundation, the Utah Autism Foundation and Autism Speaks. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors dedicate this report in memory of P. Brent Petersen, M.D.

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Correspondence to Deborah Bilder.

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Miller, J.S., Bilder, D., Farley, M. et al. Autism Spectrum Disorder Reclassified: A Second Look at the 1980s Utah/UCLA Autism Epidemiologic Study. J Autism Dev Disord 43, 200–210 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-012-1566-0

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Diagnostic criteria
  • Intellectual disability