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Autism in the Faroe Islands: diagnostic stability from childhood to early adult life

Scientific World
Publication Date
  • Computer Science
  • Medicine


Childhood autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been regarded as one of the most stable diagnostic categories applied to young children with psychiatric/developmental disorders. The stability over time of a diagnosis of ASD is theoretically interesting and important for various diagnostic and clinical reasons. We studied the diagnostic stability of ASD from childhood to early adulthood in the Faroe Islands: a total school age population sample (8–17-year-olds) was screened and diagnostically assessed for AD in 2002 and 2009. This paper compares both independent clinical diagnosis and Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO) algorithm diagnosis at two time points, separated by seven years. The stability of clinical ASD diagnosis was perfect for AD, good for “atypical autism”/PDD-NOS, and less than perfect for Asperger syndrome (AS). Stability of the DISCO algorithm subcategory diagnoses was more variable but still good for AD. Both systems showed excellent stability over the seven-year period for “any ASD” diagnosis, although a number of clear cases had been missed at the original screening in 2002. The findings support the notion that subcategories of ASD should be collapsed into one overarching diagnostic entity with subgrouping achieved on other “non-autism” variables, such as IQ and language levels and overall adaptive functioning.

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