Developmental regression among children with autism spectrum disorder: Onset, duration, and effects on functional outcomes

Robin P. Goin-Kochel, Amy N. Esler, Stephen M. Kanne, Vanessa Hus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Studies using varied methods report that developmental regression occurs in a sizeable proportion of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Findings are equivocal as to whether regression is associated with poorer cognitive and adaptive functioning. This study examined retrospective parent report in 2105 Simons Simplex Collection participants with ASD. Children were classified as having "full" or "subthreshold" losses on language and/or other skills using items from the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and a supplemental interview to capture more subtle regressions. Overall, 36.9% of children had some type of regression (27.8% language, 27.0% other-skill loss), with the supplemental interview capturing 11.7% of losses that would have been missed using the ADI-R alone. This figure is consistent with previous parent-report studies but lower than clinician-observed rates in prospective investigations. Early language losses - either full or subthreshold - and full other-skill losses appear to be associated with more deleterious outcomes by middle childhood. Findings may signify the need for more immediate and/or intense therapies for children who have even minor skill losses, particularly in language skills. Results further demonstrate the utility of an expanded set of additional queries with slightly modified criteria to capture such early, subtle losses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890-898
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Adaptive functioning
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cognition
  • Outcomes
  • Regression
  • Skill loss


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