The diagnosis of autism and Asperger syndrome: findings from a survey of 770 families
Version of Record online: 13 FEB 2007
Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology
Volume 41, Issue 12, pages 834–839, December 1999
How to Cite
Howlin, P. and Asgharian, A. (1999), The diagnosis of autism and Asperger syndrome: findings from a survey of 770 families. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 41: 834–839. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.1999.tb00550.x
- Issue online: 13 FEB 2007
- Version of Record online: 13 FEB 2007
- Accepted for publication Accepted for publication 19th July 1999.
As part of a wider survey of parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders in the UK, the diagnostic experiences of 614 parents of children with autism and 156 with Asperger syndrome were compared. Although the ages of the children in the two groups were very similar at the time of the survey, parents of children given a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome had experienced significantly longer delays and greater frustration in obtaining a diagnosis than those with a child with autism. In the‘autism group’the average age when diagnosis was confirmed was around 5.5 years; in the‘Asperger group’it was 11 years. Parents of children with a diagnosis of autism were generally aware of problems in their child's development by 18 months of age; in the Asperger group concerns emerged later, at around 30 months of age. Initial worries in both groups centred around abnormal social development but parents of children with Asperger syndrome were less likely to have noted communication problems. Stereotyped or repetitive behaviours were not prominent in the early years in either group. Despite the problems inherent in data collected by postal survey, many of the findings of this study are supported by other research. The practical implications of delayed diagnosis, especially in the case of more able children with Asperger syndrome are discussed.