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J Autism Dev Disord. 2000 Apr;30(2):113-9.

Developmental regression in autism: maternal perception.

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  • 1The Hannah Khoushy Child Development Center, Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.


Developmental regression among children with autism is a common phenomenon of unknown origin. The purpose of this study was to identify the differences between children with autism who reportedly regressed with those who did not regress. A representative group of 39 mothers were interviewed (40 children--1 pair of twin girls) about familial, pregnancy, perinatal, as well as medical history and developmental milestones. The study focused on mothers' perceptions of developmental regression. Nineteen children (47.5%) regressed in verbal and nonverbal communication and social but not in motor abilities. Mean age of regression was 24 months, with 11 children who regressed before and 8 after this age. No significant differences were reported by mothers of children who did or did not regress. More mothers of children who regressed, than those of children who did not, expressed guilt feelings regarding the development of autism, and almost all of them had an "explanation" for the possible mechanisms that might have influenced their children's developmental course. In conclusion, developmental regression in our population appears to be a typical event in the natural course of autism. There is little difference between those children who regressed and those who did not regress in maternal perceptions and reports of development, family, and medical history.

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