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Child Neuropsychol. 2013;19(6):579-87. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2012.727791. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

Autism characteristics in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

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a Neurosciences and Mental Health , The Hospital for Sick Children , Toronto , Ontario , Canada.



Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) exhibit difficulties in many cognitive and behavioral domains and also have high comorbidity with other disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder as well as autism. Although the FASD profile is shown to be distinct from ADHD and conduct disorder, far less is known about the commonalities with autism. The current study used a parent-rated questionnaire containing an autism subscale to explore the autistic-like features that children with FASD exhibit.


Studied were 25 children with FASD (age: M = 10.3 years) and 17 normal controls (NCs; age: M = 10.2 years). As part of a larger study, all parents/caregivers completed the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS; Gresham & Elliot, 2008), which in addition to evaluating social skills and behavior problems globally, includes an Autism subscale.


Between-group comparisons showed the FASD group not only scored significantly lower in social skills and significantly higher in behavior problems than the NC group but children with FASD also scored significantly higher on the Autism subscale. Item analysis revealed they showed the most difficulty in terms of social and communicative functioning and the least in repetitive and restrictive behaviors.


Current findings signify that FASD and autism share similarities with regard to social and communicative functioning. These findings, which further our knowledge of the FASD phenotype, may be useful in specifying the particular interventions these children need.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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