Autism spectrum disorders in children with normal intellectual levels: associated impairments and subgroups

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2004 Jul;46(7):444-7. doi: 10.1017/s0012162204000738.


In order to define potential subgroups pertaining to the spectrum of 'high-functioning' pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) the medical and psychiatric records of 101 children with PDD were reviewed. Ninety-one children had a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, nine had a PDD not otherwise specified, and one had 'high-functioning' autism. Mean age of the children (71 males, 30 females) was 9 years 8 months (age range 5 to 12 years). Apart from the core dysfunctions of the PDD, i.e. deficient social interaction, communication and repertoires, and restricted interests, 95% had attentional problems, 75% had motor difficulties, 86% had problems with regulation of activity level, and 50% had impulsiveness. About three-quarters had symptoms compatible with mild or severe attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or had deficits in attention, motor control, and perception (DAMP), indicating a considerable overlap between these disorders and high-functioning PDD in children of normal or near-normal intelligence. A combination of affective dysregulation, thought disturbance, and severely restricted social interaction, referred to as a multiple complex developmental disorder (MCDD; a condition possibly related to schizoaffective disorder), was recorded in about 8% of the children. Seventeen percent had another major medical diagnosis or medical syndrome, which highlights the importance of completing a neurological assessment of all children with PDDs.

MeSH terms

  • Asperger Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Asperger Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis
  • Language Disorders / epidemiology
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Motor Skills Disorders / diagnosis
  • Motor Skills Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Severity of Illness Index