Behaviors Characteristic of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Geriatric Cohort with Mild Cognitive Impairment or Early Dementia

Elizabeth K. Rhodus, Justin Barber, Erin L. Abner, Danielle M.C. Duff, Shoshana H. Bardach, Allison Caban-Holt, Donita Lightner, Graham D. Rowles, Frederick A. Schmitt, Gregory A. Jicha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction:Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) represents a heterogenous cluster of clinical phenotypes that are classically diagnosed by the time of adolescence. The possibility of late-life emergence of ASD has been poorly explored.Methods:To more fully characterize the possibility of late-life emergence of behaviors characteristic of ASD in mild cognitive impairment and AD, we surveyed caregivers of 142 older persons with cognitive impairment from the University of Kentucky Alzheimer's Disease Center Longitudinal Cohort using the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale-2.Results:Participants with high autism index ratings (autism "possible/very likely," n=23) reported significantly (statistically and clinically) younger age at the onset of cognitive impairment than those who scored in the autism "unlikely" range (n=119): 71.14±10.9 vs. 76.65±8.25 (P=0.034). In addition, those in the autism "possible/very likely" group demonstrated advanced severity of cognitive impairment, indicated by the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes scores.Discussion:Data demonstrate that ASD behaviors may seem de novo of degenerative dementia and such behaviors are more prevalent in those with early onset dementia. Further work elucidating a connection between ASD and dementia could shed light on subclinical forms of ASD, identify areas of shared neuroanatomic involvement between ASD and dementias, and provide valuable insights that might hasten the development of therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-71
Number of pages6
JournalAlzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received for publication February 16, 2019; accepted August 5, 2019. From the *Graduate Center for Gerontology; Departments of ‡Epidemiology; §Behavioral Science; ∥Neurology; and †The Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Supported by NIH/NIA 1 P30 AG028383. The authors declare no conflicts of interest. Reprints: Gregory A. Jicha, MD, PhD, Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536 (e-mail: gregory.jicha@uky.edu). Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Alzheimer disease
  • autism
  • behavior
  • dementia
  • mild cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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