Developmental and behavioral groupings can predict changes in adaptive behavior over time in young children with neurodevelopmental disorders

Res Dev Disabil. 2023 Jan;132:104390. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2022.104390. Epub 2022 Dec 5.


The heterogeneity within, and the overlap between, diagnostic categories for neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) remain poorly understood. Developmental trajectories may diverge among children with the same diagnosis, who may also respond very differently to treatment. In a previous study, we used statistical clustering methods in a sample of 194 preschoolers who were referred for NDD assessment. We identified three distinct subgroups based on multiple developmental and behavioral variables. The present study aimed to identify: (1) early developmental markers at the surveillance and screening period that are predictive of subgroup membership at the diagnostic period (i.e., around age 5), (2) associations between subgroups and the evolution of adaptive behavior over the course of two years, and (3) predictors of adaptive behavior change. Subgroup membership was the only significant predictor of adaptive behavior change over time, which suggests that a clustering method based on developmental and behavioral profiles may be useful in treatment planning.

Keywords: Adaptive behavior; Autism; Clinical subgroups; Early markers; Intellectual disability; Neurodevelopmental disability.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders* / epidemiology