Objective: To describe the psychological development of children with pervasive developmental disorders over a period of 3 years and to identify the factors linked to their developmental paths.
Method: The study was a collaborative and prospective follow-up study of 219 preschoolers. Retrospective data and enrollment data were collected at the beginning of the study and 3 years later.
Results: We observed high variability in the short-term outcomes of preschoolers. In line with previous research, our results showed that intellectual, linguistic and adaptive functioning were useful for predicting outcome. The severity of a child's autistic symptoms appears to be related to his or her future development. These variables can therefore be used as predictors of outcome for preschoolers with autism.
Conclusion: Developmental and symptom changes in young children with autism should not be overlooked and need to be assessed regularly in view of choosing suitable servicing programs.