Many individuals with PWS have behaviors and tendencies that are like those seen in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Repeating questions, the need for “sameness”, and repetitive behaviors – these things are so common in PWS and in autism. The relationship between PWS and autism was researched recently by the PWS experts at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Institute at Vanderbilt University. It was the first large (146 individuals) study in which the children were not just screened for autism using standard autism checklists, but also examined by an autism expert qualified to make the diagnosis.
Screening tools are the first step on the path to an autism diagnosis. Every child they tested who had a positive autism screening test did NOT have ASD, but every child with ASD did have a positive screen. There were 14 children with positive screens who did not meet criteria for a diagnosis of ASD.
ASD currently affects 1-2% of all children and many more boys are diagnosed than girls. In this study, PWS+ASD was equal in both genders. 18 children (12.3%) were given a diagnosis of ASD (PWS+ASD) in this group of 146 children, a significantly higher rate. Autism researchers and PWS researchers continue to seek answers and understanding, and both groups of children benefit from these efforts.
Click below to see the entire research study:
Elisabeth M. Dykens, Elizabeth Roof, Hailee Hunt-Hawkins, Nathan Dankner, Evon Batey Lee,
Carolyn M. Shivers, Christopher Daniell and Soo-Jeong Kim
Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (2017) 9:18