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Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Cautionary Note 

Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Cautionary Note
Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Cautionary Note

Elisabeth M. Dykens

and Miriam Lense

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date: 15 July 2020

This chapter presents a cautionary tale about the impact of the broader definition of autism on how investigators are conducting their research. Diagnostically, the autism spectrum has expanded to include milder types of autism that are not necessarily associated with intellectual disabilities. At the same time, the inclusionary criteria for autism studies have narrowed to primarily include persons with high IQs, to the exclusion of those with autism and low IQs or with co-occurring syndromes or neurological disorders. The current research practice of truncating IQ and focusing primarily on those with high IQs does not represent the full scope of autism as a spectrum disorder, limits generalizability of findings, and does not represent the majority of persons who have autism spectrum disorder. The chapter describes several ideas for increasing the representation of those with intellectual disabilities into future autism spectrum disorder research.

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