22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) is a genomic disorder reported to associate with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in 15-50% of cases; however, others suggest that individuals with 22q11.2DS present psychiatric or behavioral features associated with ASDs, but do not meet full criteria for ASD diagnoses. Such wide variability in findings may arise in part due to methodological differences across studies. Our study sought to determine whether individuals with 22q11.2DS meet strict ASD diagnostic criteria using research-based guidelines from the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism (CPEA), which required a gathering of information from three sources: the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), the Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule (ADOS), and a clinician's best-estimate diagnosis. Our study examined a cohort of children, adolescents, and young adults (n = 56) with 22q11.2DS, who were ascertained irrespective of parents' behavioral or developmental concerns, and found that 17.9% (n = 10) of the participants met CPEA criteria for an ASD diagnosis, and that a majority showed some level of social-communication impairment or the presence of repetitive behaviors. We conclude that strictly defined ASDs occur in a substantial proportion of individuals with 22q11.2DS, and recommend that all individuals with 22q11.2DS be screened for ASDs during early childhood.
Keywords: 22q11.2 deletion; CNV; RDoC; Research Domain Criteria; autism; autism spectrum; copy number variation; diagnosis.