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Title: Autistic traits in non-autistic clinical populations
Author: Pooni, J.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis considers the prevalence of autistic traits in disorders that are not traditionally associated with autism. Part I is a review of studies examining the presence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and autistic traits amongst people who have a non-ASD diagnosis. This includes a critical evaluation of the methodological and conceptual issues pertaining to current research evidence. In conclusion, evidence for the presence of elevated ASD traits is highlighted. However, further work is required to accurately estimate the true prevalence and clinical implications. Part II examines the possibility of undetected ASD in young people with restrictive eating disorders (ED). This was done using a case-control design involving three IQ-matched groups: (1) ED (n =22); (2) typically developing (n =24); (3) ASD (n = 20). Joint recruitment and data collection was undertaken with Aafke Ninteman who examined shared neuropsychological traits (Ninteman, 2010). No significant differences were found between typically developing controls and individuals with ED on a measure of the autism triad. However, the ED group showed elevated scores on a measure of restricted and repetitive behaviours of a similar severity to the ASD controls. Although these findings refute the notion that diagnostic threshold level ASD is prevalent in individuals with ED, they do present an intriguing picture of elevations in a fraction of the autism triad. Further research is required to determine whether these elevations reflect autism symptomology or merely present as autism-like behaviours. Part III presents further methodological issues pertaining to the study. Moreover, personal reflections on the research process are considered as well as wider implications for research and clinical practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available