Trajectory of development in adolescents and adults with autism

Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2004;10(4):234-47. doi: 10.1002/mrdd.20038.


This article seeks to elucidate the trajectory of development in adolescents and adults with autism. Prospective, retrospective, and cross-sectional studies are reviewed to reveal the manifestation of and changes in the core symptoms of autism in adolescence and adulthood. Comparing children with adolescents and adults, modest degrees of symptom abatement and improvement in skills have been documented in multiple studies, as are increases in verbal and decreases in performance IQ. Nevertheless, most individuals do not attain normative outcomes in adulthood and continue to manifest significant degrees of symptomatology and dependency. However, a small sub-group (about 15%) has more favorable adult outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Phenotype
  • Severity of Illness Index