The British Journal of Psychiatry
Autistic traits in adults with learning disabilities.
S Bhaumik, D Branford, C McGrother, C Thorp


BACKGROUND Although many adults with learning disabilities show features of autistic syndrome, there have been very few population-based studies. We explored the prevalence of autistic traits and their association with maladaptive behaviours in a geographically defined population of adults with learning disabilities.

METHOD The carers of 2201 adults with learning disabilities were interviewed, and information was sought concerning aspects of their behaviour and ability. Individuals were scored according to the number of core autistic traits displayed. The prevalence of autistic traits was examined in respect of aspects of behaviour and ability.

RESULTS Autistic traits were common among adults with learning disabilities. Those with a higher number of autistic traits were more likely to be profoundly learning disabled and demonstrate a wide range of challenging behaviours.

CONCLUSION Many adults with learning disabilities demonstrate autistic traits. The relationship of autistic traits with challenging behaviour has major implications in service planning and delivery.