OBJECTIVES

We aimed to describe the intellectual ability and ratio of boys to girls with average or higher IQ within autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cases identified in a population-based birth cohort. We hypothesized that research-identified individuals with ASD would be more likely to have average or higher IQ, compared to clinically diagnosed ASD. We also hypothesized the male to female ratio would decrease as the definition of ASD broadened.

METHODS

ASD incident cases were identified from 31 220 subjects in a population-based birth cohort. Research-defined autism spectrum disorder, inclusive criteria (ASD-RI) was based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, autistic disorder (AD), Asperger Disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified criteria. Research-defined autism spectrum disorder, narrow criteria (ASD-RN) was a narrower definition based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision AD criteria. Clinical diagnoses of ASD were abstracted from medical and school records. Intellectual ability was based on the last IQ score or on documented diagnoses of intellectual disability if no scores available. Average or higher IQ was defined as IQ ≥86.

RESULTS

A total of 59.1% of those with ASD-RI (n = 890), 51.2% of those with ASD-RN (n = 453), and 42.8% of those with clinically diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (n = 187) had average or higher IQ. Within the ASD-RI and ASD-RN groups, boys were more likely than girls to have an average or higher IQ (62.0% vs 51.3% [P = .004] and 54.1% vs. 42.5% [P = .03], respectively).

CONCLUSION

Our data suggest that nearly half of individuals with ASD have average or higher IQ. Boys with ASD are more likely to have average or higher IQ than girls. Patients with ASD and higher IQ remain at risk for not being identified.

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