A comparison of social skills profiles in intellectually disabled adults with and without ASD

Jonathan Wilkins, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
Johnny L. Matson


The purpose of this study was to systematically examine the social-skills profiles among adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). Using one-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), three groups (autism, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS], and ID only) were compared on seven global measures of social behavior. There were 72 individuals in each group matched on level of ID, verbal ability, age, and gender. Distinctions were noted in the areas of positive social behaviors and negative nonverbal social behaviors. Those with autism displayed the greatest deficits in these areas, followed by those with PDD-NOS. The results support the notions that social impairment remains a distinct feature of ASD in adults with ID, that autism and PDD-NOS are two conditions on the same spectrum, and that this spectrum is relevant for adults with ID. Implications of the results and directions for future research are discussed.