Autistic features in young children with significant cognitive impairment: autism or mental retardation?

J Autism Dev Disord. 1999 Jun;29(3):235-48. doi: 10.1023/a:1023084106559.


This review addresses the issues and challenges related to the differential diagnosis of autism in preschool children with significant cognitive impairment. Issues affecting differential diagnosis include the use of traditional diagnostic guidelines for preschoolers with developmental delays, developmental changes in behavioral characteristics, the involvement of cognitive factors in symptom expression, and the overlap between autism and mental retardation in individuals with significant cognitive impairment. The usefulness of autistic features for differential diagnosis is explored in terms of the core deficits of autism.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Autistic Disorder / complications*
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / complications*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / complications*
  • Intellectual Disability / diagnosis
  • Severity of Illness Index