Thursday, May 23, 2013

PWS Awareness Day #23: PWS and Autism

One paper (Dykens et al., 2011) says that the incidence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in PWS is 40% in persons with the UPD type and 15-18% in persons with the deletion type. No matter the exact numbers, it is clear that having a dual diagnosis of PWS and ASD is quite common. While this is often hard for families to accept another diagnosis, still many others are relieved to tap into the many more resources that exist for ASD than for PWS. A lot of people know what autism is, while a great majority have never heard of PWS.

Even without a dual diagnosis, many characteristics of PWS resemble those of ASD. Developmental delays, difficulty with transitions, difficulty with abstract thinking, perseverative and rigid thinking, repetitive behaviors, sleep disturbances, self-injurious behaviors, wandering/eloping, ability to process the affective (emotional) states of others, strengths in visual-spatial functioning, and more. And obviously, ASD and PWS are both spectrum disorders, with a great range in functioning and number of/severity of symptoms. ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is a treatment that works well with kids with ASD, and it works well with many with PWS as well. The PWS community can learn a lot from and draw on resources from the autism community.

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