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Title: An investigation of the relationship between functional impairment and autistic traits in a clinical population
Author: Varrall, R.
Awarding Body: University College London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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Aims: Based on theories of dimensionality and fractionation of the autistic triad, this study investigates the role of autistic traits in adaptive functioning. The suitability of current diagnostic thresholds and classification criteria are explored with particular interest in partial and mild sub-threshold autistic presentations. Method: Seventy-two young people (mean age = 11.03 years), referred for assessment at a specialist autism spectrum disorder (ASD) clinic were administered the Vinelands Adaptive Behaviour Scales; parent report and direct observational measures of autistic symptomatology; intelligence tests; and the Repetitive Behaviour Scale-Revised. Participants were initially compared according to diagnostic group. Correlational and regression models were then used to investigate relationships between IQ, autistic symptomatology and adaptive functioning. Results: Compared to population norms, adaptive functioning was impaired in all diagnostic groups. Compared to Asperger’s disorder (n=25) and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (n=10), the autistic disorder (n=24) and broader autism phenotype (n=13) groups showed the greatest difficulties. IQ and parent-reported reciprocal social interaction impairments were predictive of adaptive functioning difficulties in this clinical sample. Agreement between parent-report and direct observational measures of autistic symptomatology was low. Conclusion: Partial and sub threshold presentations show significant adaptive functioning disabilities at comparable levels to diagnoses with full triad of impairments. Further prospective studies are required to account for and explore intervention and longitudinal trajectories.
Supervisor: Mandy, W. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available