Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 11, pp 3469–3480 | Cite as

Demographic and Cognitive Profile of Individuals Seeking a Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adulthood

  • Francesca G. Happé
  • Hassan Mansour
  • Pippa Barrett
  • Tony Brown
  • Patricia Abbott
  • Rebecca A. CharltonEmail author
Original Paper


Little is known about ageing with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We examined the characteristics of adults referred to a specialist diagnostic centre for assessment of possible ASD, 100 of whom received an ASD diagnosis and 46 did not. Few demographic differences were noted between the groups. Comorbid psychiatric disorders were high in individuals with ASD (58 %) and non-ASD (59 %). Individuals who received an ASD diagnosis had higher self-rated severity of ASD traits than non-ASD individuals. Within the ASD group, older age was associated with higher ratings of ASD traits and better cognitive performance. One interpretation is that general cognitive ability and the development of coping strategies across the lifespan, do not necessarily reduce ASD traits but may mitigate their effects.


Adulthood Ageing Autism spectrum disorders Autism traits Diagnosis Psychiatric comorbidity 



This work was supported by Goldsmiths University, Research and Enterprise Committee College Research Fund (PI, Charlton). We wish to acknowledge and thank all staff at the ADRC, Southampton who contributed to information utilised in this study. We wish to thank all individuals referred to the ADRC for consenting for their information to be utilised in this research.

Authors Contribution

RAC conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, performed statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript; HM performed the measurement and the statistical analysis; FGH participated in the design of the study and drafted the manuscript; PB and TB performed the measurement; PB conceived of the study, and participated in its design and coordination of the study and performed the measurement. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional committees on human experimentation and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008. Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyGoldsmiths University of LondonNew Cross, LondonUK
  3. 3.Autism Diagnostic Research CentreSouthamptonUK

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