By Anna P. Kroncke, Marcy Willard, Helena Huckabee
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Extra resources for Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Critical Issues in Clinical, Forensic and School Settings
This model highlights the importance of the fact that autism falls on a continuum, a “spectrum,” and that each child’s strengths are unique. It takes into account the fact that although early symptom levels may appear to be the primary indicator of later success, the research points to the idea autism symptoms alone are not necessarily predictive of later outcomes. 27 Language Skills Fig. 2 Orthogonal model of symptom severity High IQ, High symptoms High IQ, Low Symptoms Low IQ, Low Symptoms Low IQ, High Symptoms Rather, individual factors including IQ, language, and certain early social skills tend to have a complex and dynamic relationship with symptom levels and optimal outcomes.
2009). Taken together, research is pointing to early effective intervention as a signiﬁcant factor in treatment. However, larger scale parametric studies need to be done in order to show the relative contribution of treatment to further optimize outcomes. Another important consideration when evaluating whether or not treatment is a signiﬁcant factor in optimal outcomes is looking at epigenetic factors and the degree to which certain symptoms of autism tend not to develop at all in response to early intervention.
The American Psychiatric Association proposes that, “advanced paternal age, low birth weight, or fetal exposure to valproate [medication], may contribute to the risk of autism spectrum disorder” (APA, 2013, p. 56). Although there are no clear answers, families, and particularly pregnant mothers, are wise to consider the environmental impact on risk for autism. It may be important, in many cases, to avoid foods treated with pesticides and other chemicals, particularly if other genetic or familial concerns are present (having a sibling with autism for example).