IQ testing in autistic toddlers predicts… IQ testing in autistic adults

“Predicting young adult outcome in ASD”
This is an important study, so apologies for the snarky title.
Basically, this reassures clinicians that if the child seems have serious problems on cognitive testing at 2 or 3, then they likely to still have problems at 19. However, hours trying to persuade severely autistic toddlers to cooperate with formal testing has persuaded me that we are, at least in part, measuring severity of the autism, not the IQ. So the study shows me that someone who looks severe at 2-3 probably is. That’s useful and helps us when counselling parents.
The interesting finding from those with a normal range IQ is the minority who seem to have left the diagnostic category of ASD altogether. These have normal IQ and fewer repetitive behaviors at 2-3 than the rest of the sample. This reminds us that ASD is a behavioral phenotype, and a highly variable one that, and can the result of various developmental processes. It stands to reason that some of these processes may eventually result in the person escaping autism’s gravitational pull, especially given the lack of clear blue water between ASD and “normal“.

The search for indicators of who might not ‘stay’ autistic is on, as well as speculation about what might encourage these positive developmental outcomes. At this point I would only say that establishing that particular interventions increase the chance of losing the diagnosis is going to be devilishly hard, but that cutting family and educational support probably won’t help, Mr Osborne.

See, even when discussing science, I can’t resist a little dig.


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