ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 5 ? A diagnosis of autism in a two-year old child stands a pretty good chance of holding up when that child is nine, according to researchers here.
On the other hand, a two-year-old diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) is more likely to be re-classified as having autism or another disorder seven years down the road, according to Catherine Lord, Ph.D., and colleagues in North Carolina, England, and Israel.
Getting the early diagnosis right may be important for researchers developing therapies for autism, and for educators developing early intervention programs targeted at the social, behavioral and adaptive deficits of children with autism, the authors suggested in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
"Several intervention projects reported diagnostic changes and extraordinary levels of improvement in a substantial minority of young children with autism," the investigators wrote. "Other reports found little diagnostic change and fewer marked improvements. Possible explanations for these conflicting results are diagnostic instability or the lack of age-appropriate diagnostic criteria for very young children."