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Study Finds That a Subset of Children Often Considered to Have Autism May Be Misdiagnosed
Date:9/18/2013

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) September 18, 2013

Children with a genetic disorder called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, who frequently are believed to also have autism, often may be misidentified because the social impairments associated with their developmental delay may mimic the features of autism, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute suggests.

The study is the first to examine autism in children with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, in whom the prevalence of autism has been reported at between 20 and 50 percent, using rigorous gold-standard diagnostic criteria. The research found that none of the children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome “met strict diagnostic criteria” for autism.

The researchers said the finding is important because treatments designed for children with autism, such as widely used discrete-trial training methods, may exacerbate the anxiety that is commonplace among the population.

Rather, evaluations should be performed to assess autism and guide the selection of appropriate therapies based on the children’s symptoms, such as language and communication delay, the researchers said. The study, “Social impairments in Chromosome 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS): Autism Spectrum Disorder or a different Endophenotype?” is published online today in Springer's Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

A high prevalence of autism spectrum disorder has been reported in children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome – as high as 50 percent based on parent-report measures. Children diagnosed with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome – or 22q – may experience mild to severe cardiac anomalies, weakened immune systems and malformations of the head and neck and the roof of the mouth, or palate. They also experience developmental delay, with IQs in the borderline-to-low-average range. They characteristically experience significant anxiety and appear socially awkward.

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