• ICare4Autism

Severity of Autism Predicts Children’s Ability to Learn Life Skills, According to New Study

The severity of autism traits predicts children’s ability to learn basic life skills, according to a new study by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario. How well the children perform basic tasks of daily living at about age 6 depends on their language skills, age of diagnosis, and the extent of certain autism traits between two and four.

While many studies have examined daily living skills in autistic adolescents and adults, few have examined those skills in young children, and only two have explored how daily living skills evolve over time in young children with autism. These studies reported contradictory results, with one finding that the rate at which children acquired these skills increased over time, while another found that they decreased.

Hoping to resolve this discrepancy, lead investigator Briano di Rezze and his team analyzed data from 278 autistic boys and 53 autistic girls in Canada. Specifically, the researchers focused on the children’s scores on one section of a test called the Vineland Adaptive Behaviors Scale, which measures daily living skills such as brushing teeth and getting dressed. While the children’s scores increased over time, the rate of improvement varied.

The children were divided into two groups based on the severity of their autism traits, as measured by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. The 10 percent of children with the least severity improved more quickly than the other 90 percent with more severity. At the same time, the researchers did not find a statistically significant link between the scores at age six and severity at various ages. The researchers also found that children with more repetitive behaviors tend to have worse daily living skills at age six than those with fewer repetitive behaviors. Di Rezze and his team are currently studying the impact of the school and home environments on children’s daily living skills over time. Source:


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