Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder symptomatology and related behavioural characteristics in individuals with Down syndrome

Joanna Moss, Caroline Richards, Lisa Nelson, Christopher Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


We evaluated the proportion of individuals with Down syndrome (DS: N = 108) who met criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on the Social Communication Questionnaire and the severity of ASD-related symptomatology in this group. The proportions of individuals with DS meeting the cut-off for ASD and autism in this sample were 19% and 8%, respectively. We then evaluated the behavioural profile of individuals with DS who scored above cut-off for ASD (DS+ASD; N = 17) compared with those with DS-only (N = 17) and individuals with idiopathic ASD (N = 17), matched for adaptive behaviour skills and ASD symptom severity (ASD group only). Individuals in the DS+ASD and ASD-only groups showed more stereotyped behaviour, repetitive language, overactivity and self-injury than the DS-only group (p <.001). Individuals in the DS+ASD and DS-only groups appeared less withdrawn from their surroundings than those with ASD (p <.004). These findings indicate differences in the behavioural and cognitive profile of individuals with DS+ASD compared with those with DS-only, when controlling for adaptive behaviour skills. Individuals with DS+ASD show broad similarities with individuals with idiopathic ASD with regard to ASD and behavioural characteristics but may also show some areas of subtle difference from this group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-404
Number of pages15
JournalAutism: the international journal of research and practice
Issue number4
Early online date15 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • behavioural phenotype
  • challenging behaviour
  • Down syndrome
  • mood
  • repetitive behaviour
  • adaptive behavior
  • adolescent
  • adult
  • article
  • autism
  • automutilation
  • behavior disorder
  • child
  • clinical feature
  • cognition
  • disease severity
  • female
  • human
  • idiopathic disease
  • language disability
  • major clinical study
  • male
  • preschool child
  • priority journal
  • psychosocial withdrawal
  • school child
  • stereotypy
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
  • Child, Preschool
  • Down Syndrome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Prevalence
  • Social Behavior
  • Stereotyped Behavior
  • Young Adult


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