Socioeconomic status is significantly associated with symptoms of autism spectrum disorders in children receiving early therapeutic intervention


Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from families with lower socioeconomic status were at increased risk of having low functional skills. These results, taken from a cross-sectional study, were published in Autism.

Children (N = 193) aged 5 to 12 were recruited from the National University Hospital in Singapore. Children were assessed for early intervention (wait time and intensity of treatment) and their socioeconomic status. These characteristics were associated with the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-Second Edition (VABS) Adaptive Behavior Composite (ABC) score, the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC), and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Intelligence Scale. (WPPSI).

The children were 84% boys aged on average 6 years and 7 months (standard deviation [SD], 6.2 months), 49.7% of mothers and 43.0% of fathers attended university and 76.7% received financial grants for their child’s therapy.

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The composite VABS score was on average 76.5 (SD, 15.1), the communication subscale was 77.9 (SD, 21.6), the socialization subscale was 73.9 ( SD, 15.1) and the Daily Living subscale was 79.4 (SD, 15.8) points. The children had a mean full-scale intelligence quotient of 88.0 (SD, 19.4).

Children entered the intervention program at the mean age of 42.0 (SD, 10.0) months after a mean wait time of 6.2 (SD, 3.0) months. The intervention consisted of an average of 8.0 (SD, 3.0) hours per week.

Significant negative correlations were observed between VABS ABC score and autism severity (r, -0.49; P £ .01), financial hardship (r, -0.24; P £ 0.01) and the waiting time (r, -0.18; P <.05 between the waiting time and intensity of intervention>P £ .01), and financial hardship and pre-school education (r, -0.18; P <.05 positive correlations were observed between the vabs abs and paternal score>P £ .01) and kindergarten (r, 0.24; P £ .01) education and between maternal and paternal education (r, 0.59; P £ .01).

VABS ABC scores were associated with the severity of autism (b, -0.49; P <.001 waiting time>P = .04), financial difficulties (b, -0.15; P = 0.04) and paternal education (b, 0.18; P = .03).

This study was limited by its cross-sectional design. However, the authors plan to perform a longitudinal follow-up, during which they can test the causal relationships.

These data indicated that family socioeconomic status, parental education and time spent on a wait list were more strongly associated with symptoms of ASD in children than the intensity of early therapeutic intervention. .


Aishworiya R, Goh TJ, Sung M, Tay SKH. Correlates of adaptive skills in children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism. 2021; 1362361321997287. doi: 10.1177 / 1362361321997287.


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