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Aging and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Naturalistic, Longitudinal Study of the Comorbidities and Behavioral and Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Adults with ASD


Little is known about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in persons over age 50. In a retrospective, naturalistic review of 74 individuals aged 30 and older meeting DSM-5 criteria for ASD, the point prevalence of behavioral and neuropsychiatric symptoms (BNPS) declined significantly for 12 of 13 BNPS over a mean of 25 years while many other features of ASD remained stable. GI disorders (68.9%) and seizure disorders (23%) were common, and 25.7% of the sample had a BMI >30. Females were more likely to engage in screaming (p < 0.05) and oppositional behavior (p < 0.05). Current age did not have a significant effect on BNPS prevalence.

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We wish to acknowledge and thank the staff at CSAAC, including Dide Cimen Berube, Sam Asiamah, and Janet Burch, who participated in coordination of the study.

Authors’ contributions

PV conceived of the study, participated in its design and interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript; MS participated in the design and coordination of the study; EW participated in the design and coordination of the study, performed the measurement and statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth A. Wise.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

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Wise, E.A., Smith, M.D. & Rabins, P.V. Aging and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Naturalistic, Longitudinal Study of the Comorbidities and Behavioral and Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Adults with ASD. J Autism Dev Disord 47, 1708–1715 (2017).

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  • Adulthood
  • Aging
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Neuropsychiatric symptoms