Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.
Reversible autism among congenitally blind children? A controlled follow-up study
Article first published online: 24 JUN 2010
© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry © 2010 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 51, Issue 11, pages 1235–1241, November 2010
How to Cite
Peter Hobson, R. and Lee, A. (2010), Reversible autism among congenitally blind children? A controlled follow-up study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51: 1235–1241. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02274.x
- Issue published online: 24 JUN 2010
- Article first published online: 24 JUN 2010
- Manuscript accepted 1 March 2010
- Autistic disorder;
- visual handicap;
- congenital blindness
Background: Atypical forms of autism may yield insights into the development and nature of the syndrome.
Methods: We conducted a follow-up study of nine congenitally blind and seven sighted children who, eight years earlier, had satisfied formal diagnostic criteria for autism and had been included in groups matched for chronological age and verbal ability. In keeping with the original study, we met with teachers to discuss a DSM-based checklist of clinical features of autism, and conducted direct observations of the children to complete assessments on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS; Schopler, Reichler, and Renner, 1986) and the Behavior Checklist for Disordered Preschoolers (BCDP; Sherman, Shapiro, & Glassman, 1983).
Results: As predicted, a substantially higher proportion of blind (eight out of nine) than sighted (none out of seven) children now failed to meet formal DSM criteria for autism, and in keeping with BCDP ratings, they had significantly lower CARS scores.
Conclusions: Follow-up of nine congenitally blind children with autism revealed that, in adolescence, only one still satisfied diagnostic criteria for the syndrome. We consider the implications for theoretical perspectives on the development of autism.