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Defining the Intellectual Profile of Elderly Persons with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Saturday, 4 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
L. Ham1, A. A. Spek2, R. Wilting3 and F. Geven3, (1)GGZ Eindhoven Adult Autism Center, Eindhoven, Netherlands, (2)Mental Health Institution Eindhoven, Eindhoven, Netherlands, (3)GGZ Eindhoven Center Elderly Care Autism, Eindhoven, Netherlands

Very little is known about autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the elderly. Although research showed that behavioral symptoms of ASD seem to become somewhat less intrusive over time, it is not clear whether this is related to cognitive improvement.  It is also unclear if the aging process in adults with ASD is similar to that of the general population. Research into older persons with ASD is limited to a few case reports and one study in which executive functions and memory were examined. It is expected that the population of elderly individuals with ASD will grow substantially  in the coming years, because autistic spectrum disorders are increasingly being recognized in adults and in elderly individuals.  Therefore, it is important to gain knowledge about ASD in older people, their strengths and weaknesses and their specific needs.


To examine the WAIS III profile in older persons with ASD.


23 elderly  male individuals (age 60+) with ASD were compared with 23 neurotypical older male adults. Both groups were matched on age and level of education. Intelligence profiles were examined using the WAIS-III. Diagnoses of the ASD-group were based on the current algorithm of the ADI-R and an interview based on DSM-IV criteria of ASD.


Results showed no differences in total intelligence between the two groups. The ASD group performed significantly weaker on the index scale Processing speed. The other three index scales did not differ between the two groups. On subtest level, impairment was found in the ASD group on symbol search, no differences were found on the other subtests.


It was concluded that the intelligence profiles of elderly with and without ASD are in many ways similar, except for processing speed, in which the elderly with ASD are relatively impaired.

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