A Five-Year Follow-up of Preschool Children Diagnosed as Having an Atypical Pervasive Developmental Disorder

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Twelve of eighteen preschool children, previously diagnosed as having an atypical pervasive developmental disorder (APDD), using the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III) of the American Psychiatric Association, were followed up 5 years later. The follow-up consisted of a pediatric neurodevelopmental evaluation and the administration of the Personality Inventory for Children (PIC), and a scale derived from the criteria for an autistic disorder (AD) in the revised third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III-R). The children continued to have significant emotional, social, and cognitive problems at follow-up. Almost all required some form of therapeutic intervention, and many received multiple interventions. A broader range of symptoms (including positive symptoms of schzophrenia and signs of affective and anxiety disorders) were noted.A comparison DSM-III and DSM-III-R criteria for autism with this population revealed a lack of reliability in diagnoses between systems, both with respect to the more specific diagnosis (“autism”) and the less specific atypical diagnoses. The authors discuss the implications of these findings with respect to the interpretation of future follow-up studies of autistic and atypical children.

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