Reversible autism and intellectual disability in children


  • Michele Zappella

    Corresponding author
    • University of Siena, Via B. Bonci, 27 Siena 53100, Italy.
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    • Dr. Zappella is a psychiatrist who has extensively studied autism spectrum disorders. He teaches at the University of Siena in Child Neuropsychiatry.

  • How to cite this article: Zappella M. 2012. Reversible autism and intellectual disability in children. Am J Med Genet Part C Semin Med Genet 160C:111–117.


Studies on young children with reversible autism and intellectual disability are discussed. Present evidence suggests a clear cause in a minority of cases including early institutionalization, Landau and Kleffner syndrome, and other early onset epilepsies, intrauterine rubella, and blindness. The majority of cases have normal laboratory results and some have early onset Tourette syndrome. Preliminary data of a follow-up study of this last group are reported in 15 patients suggesting the possibility of two subgroups, one represented by early onset Tourette syndrome phenotype, characterized by a positive family history, and by its appearance at the same time as regression and persistence into adolescence while the other of a different nature. Genetic studies could be of help to clarify this issue and support a diagnosis of favorable outcome in young children. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.