Objectives: This study was to examine the development in adaptive behavior skills in young children with ASDs in
Methods: Participants included 116 individuals, 51 children with ASDs (41 autistic disorder and 10 children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified, age 2:4 to 5:1), 32 children with DD (age 3:6 to 5:0) matched on mental age (MA) and CA, and 33 children with TD (age 2:3 to 2:9) matched on MA, who were recruited to the study. Autism diagnosis was confirmed with the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and clinical impression (DSM-IV-TR). Verbal mental age obtained from the Mullen Scales of Early Learning. VABS-II was assessed by interview with caregiver(s).
Results: Two-way mixed ANOVA was conducted to compare scores on adaptive behavior domains (Communication, Daily Living Skills, Socialization, and Motor Skills) between groups (ASDs, DD, and TD). There was a significant main effect for groups but not adaptive behavior domains. TD group had better adaptive functioning than ASDs or DD. The interaction effect reached statistical significance indicated that there was a different adaptive functioning profile between groups. Follow up ANOVAs showed that in three domains, communication, daily living skills, and motor skills, TD had higher VABS-II scores than ASDs and DD, but the latter two group did not show the difference. In addition, comparing to DD and TD, children with ASDs was significantly poorer function in socialization domain. The differences in VABS-II scores between children with high and low functional ASDs were also analyzed. There was a significant main effect for groups. HFASD group had better adaptive functioning than LFASD group. The main effect for domain and the interaction effect did not reach statistical significance.
Conclusions: Relative to children with TD, both young children with ASDs and DD had weaker adaptive behavior skills. But in socialization domain, children with ASDs were much poorer than children with DD, even though their MA and CA were the same. HFASD had better adaptive behavior skills than LFASD, but their profile of adaptive behavior skills was similar. In summary, children with ASDs, regardless of their cognitive function, showed similar weakness in adaptive functioning.