Autistic Behaviors in Offspring of Mothers Abusing Alcohol and Other Drugs: A Series of Case Reports


Reprint requests: Susan R. Harris, Ph.D., PT, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of British Columbia, T325, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 2B5, Canada.


Although autistic-like behaviors were described even in the earliest reports of fetal alcohol syndrome, it was only recently that fetal alcohol syndrome and autism were reported as a dual diagnosis in six school-aged children. The purpose of the present series of case reports is to describe marked autistic characteristics in three much younger children (25–36 months) with histories of prenatal exposure to alcohol and other drugs. The behavioral characteristics of these children are described and compared with current diagnostic criteria for autistic disorder. In addition, longitudinal scores on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development are provided to underscore the marked developmental delays shown by each of the children. Limitations of these case reports are discussed with suggestions for future prospective research.