Autism in the Faroe Islands: Diagnostic Stability from Childhood to Early Adult Life

E. Kočovská, Eva Billstedt, Anna Ellefsen, Hanna Kampmann, I. Carina Gillberg, Rannvá Biskopstø, Guðrið Andorsdóttir, Tórmóður Stóra, Helen Minnis, Christopher Gillberg

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Childhood autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been regarded as one of the most stable diagnostic categories applied to
young children with psychiatric/developmental disorders. The stability over time of a diagnosis of ASD is theoretically interesting
and important for various diagnostic and clinical reasons. We studied the diagnostic stability of ASD from childhood to early
adulthood in the Faroe Islands: a total school age population sample (8–17-year-olds) was screened and diagnostically assessed
for AD in 2002 and 2009. This paper compares both independent clinical diagnosis and Diagnostic Interview for Social and
Communication Disorders (DISCO) algorithm diagnosis at two time points, separated by seven years. The stability of clinical ASD
diagnosis was perfect for AD, good for “atypical autism”/PDD-NOS, and less than perfect for Asperger syndrome (AS). Stability
of the DISCO algorithm subcategory diagnoses was more variable but still good for AD. Both systems showed excellent stability
over the seven-year period for “any ASD” diagnosis, although a number of clear cases had been missed at the original screening in
2002. The findings support the notion that subcategories of ASD should be collapsed into one overarching diagnostic entity with
subgrouping achieved on other “non-autism” variables, such as IQ and language levels and overall adaptive functioning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number592371
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • children
  • adults
  • Faroe Islands


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