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Profiles of children with Down syndrome who meet screening criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD): a comparison with children diagnosed with ASD attending specialist schools.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-82
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number1
Early online date21 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


King's Authors


Background Recent research suggests that around16%to18% of children with Down syndrome (DS)also meet diagnostic criteria for autism spectrumdisorder (ASD). However, there are indications thatprofiles of autism symptoms in this group may varyfrom those typically described in children with ASD.Method Rates of autism symptoms and emotionaland behavioural problems among children with DSwho screened positive for ASD on the SocialCommunication Questionnaire (SCQ) (n = 183) werecompared with a group of children with clinicaldiagnoses of ASD (n = 189) attending specialistschools in the UK. Groups were matched for age andapproximate language level (use of phrase speech).Results Profiles of autistic symptoms in the twogroups were generally similar, but children with DSmeeting ASD cut-off on the SCQ tended to showfewer problems in reciprocal social interaction thanthose in the ASD group. They also showed slightlylower rates of emotional and peer-related problems.The results mostly confirm findings from a previousstudy in which the original validation sample for theSCQ was used as a comparison group.Conclusion Findings suggest that children with DSwho meet screening criteria for ASD show similarprofiles of communication and repetitive behavioursto those typically described in autism. However, theytend to have relatively milder social difficulties. It isimportant that clinicians are aware of this difference ifchildren with DS and ASD are to be correctlydiagnosed and eligible for specialist intervention andeducation services.

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