Is your autistic child Complex or Essential? Research by the Autism Centre at the Children’s Hospital Columbia, Missouri is suggesting that there are two distinct forms of autism.
Children with Complex Autism make up about 20% of the autistic population. They tend to have lower IQs, more physical and brain abnormalities including microcephaly, and are just as likely to be boys as girls. Essential Autism is male dominated, seven boys to every one girl, and sufferers tend to have less seizures plus a higher IQ. An important difference between Complex and Essential is that Complex is not hereditary where as Essential can be.
If this distinction between the two type is valid then it could have some important implications for finding the causes and best treatments. As Complex Autism is non-hereditary and is high in congenital defects it points to a environment or external factor during pregnancy being the cause. Where as Essential Autism might be purely caused by genetics or an external factor such as mercury or a combination of both (see Blood Test for Autism?).
On the treatment side, the symptoms and type of autism can predict a successful treatment. Successful being defined as an IQ greater than 70 and having verbal ability at eight years old or greater.
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Study Full Text [PDF]: Essential Versus Complex Autism: Definition of Fundamental Prognostic Subtypes