A triaxial model for autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is presented, incorporating age, degree of intelligence, and severity of autistic features. As the name implies, ASD can vary in degree of expression from minimal to profound. Furthermore, the symptoms of ASD change in predictable ways with the passage of time. For example, echolalia during early childhood may be replaced by verbal literalism and difficulty with verbal humor during later childhood or adolescence. The prognosis for children with ASD is governed by the joint impact of the degree of expression of ASD and the degree of developmental delay, if any. All combinations of ASD and intellect are possible (ie, severe ASD plus severe mental retardation, severe ASD plus normal general intelligence, and so forth). The relationship among these 3 parameters—severity of ASD, level of general intelligence, and change in symptom expression over time, is represented schematically as a 3-dimensional graph. The utility of this graph as a counseling tool, and as the basis for future research on the prognosis of ASD are discussed.
- autistic spectrum disorder
- pervasive developmental disorder
- Asperger syndrome
- developmental disability
- Received October 25, 1999.
- Accepted December 10, 1999.
- Copyright © 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics