Twenty-year outcome for individuals with autism and average or near-average cognitive abilities. Autism Research, 2(2), 109-118

Utah Autism Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Utah, 650 Komas Dr., Ste. 206, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA.
Autism Research (Impact Factor: 4.33). 04/2009; 2(2):109-18. DOI: 10.1002/aur.69
Source: PubMed


Previous studies found substantial variability in adult outcome for people with autism whose cognitive functioning was within the near-average and average ranges. This study examined adult outcome for 41 such individuals (38 men and 3 women) originally identified through an epidemiological survey of autism in Utah. Mean age at the time of their previous cognitive assessment was 7.2 years (SD=4.1, range=3.1-25.9 years) and at follow-up was 32.5 years (SD=5.7 years, range=22.3-46.4 years). Outcome measures included standardized assessments of diagnostic status, cognitive ability, and adaptive behavior. Additional information collected concerned demographic variables, indicators of independence, social relationships, medical and psychiatric conditions, and social service use. Outcomes for this sample were better than outcomes described in previous work on individuals with similar cognitive functioning. For example, half of the participants were rated as "Very Good" or "Good" on a global outcome measure. As in previous studies, there was considerable variability in measured cognitive ability over time. Over half of the sample had large gains or losses of cognitive ability of greater than 1 standard deviation. Cognitive gain was associated with better outcome, as was better adaptive functioning. While all participants had baseline IQs in the nonimpaired range, there was limited evidence to support the use of other early childhood variables to predict adult outcome.

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    • "Review publications have often cited cognition/intelligence quotient (IQ) as the most common and important predictor of outcomes (Levy and Perry 2011; Seltzer et al. 2004). Increases in IQ, as well as the lack of a co-morbid intellectual disability diagnosis, have been found to positively predict employment outcomes (*Chiang et al. 2013; Howlin et al. 2004; *Liptak et al. 2011), friendships (Howlin et al. 2004), daily living independence (Gillespie- Lynch et al. 2012), and overall outcomes (Farley et al. 2009; Howlin et al. 2013). However, Howlin et al. (2004) suggested that there may be a maximum IQ (i.e., 100) for which this relationship holds, and Gillespie-Lynch et al. (2012) suggested that malleability of cognitive status (i.e., change over time) may be more relevant than early scores. "
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