Down syndrome and comorbid autism-spectrum disorder: Characterization using the aberrant behavior checklist

George T. Capone, Marco A. Grados, Walter E. Kaufmann, Susana Bernad-Ripoll, Amy Jewell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


To report on the cognitive and behavioral attributes of 61 children with Down syndrome (DS) and autistic-spectrum disorder (ASD) according to DSM-IV criteria; to determine the utility of the aberrant behavior checklist (ABC) to characterize these subjects for research purposes; and to test the hypothesis that subjects with DS + ASD could be distinguished from their typical DS peers using the ABC. Cross-sectional design. Cases with DS + ASD (N = 61), comparison group of DS + stereotypy movement disorder (SMD) (N = 26) and typical DS controls without behavior problems (N = 44) were ascertained and enrolled sequentially upon presentation to a DS clinic at an academic medical center over a 10-year period from 1991 to 2001. All subjects underwent neurodevelopmental and medical evaluation, and standardized cognitive testing. The parents provided responses to standardized behavioral questionnaires. Cognitive function (IQ) differed markedly across the three groups. The Lethary and Stereotypy subscales of the ABC were highly significant (P < 0.001) in distinguishing the three groups from one another. Within the ASD group differences were apparent by DSM-IV type on the Lethargy subscale, which reached significance, ANOVA (F = 0.002) and t-test (Autism > PDD, P = 0.005; PDD < CDD, P = 0.002). Using a multivariate regression model, the ABC scales alone explained 62% of variance of ASD outcome; addition of demographic variables explained up to 68% of the variance. There is good correlation between DSM-IV criteria for autism and subscales scores on the ABC in subjects with DS. This study demonstrates the feasibility of using the ABC to characterize the neurobehavioral phenotype of a cohort of children with trisomy 21 and ASD for ongoing research purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-380
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics
Volume134 A
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2005


  • Aberrant behavior checklist
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Dual-diagnosis
  • Pervasive developmental disorder
  • Stereotypic movements
  • Trisomy 21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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