Six per cent of child in a sample of 111 children who were adopted into U.K. families from Romania, and who were systematically assessed at the ages of 4 and 6 years, showed autistic-like patterns of behaviour. A further 6% showed milder (usually isolated) autistic features. Such autistic characteristics were not found in a similarly studied sample of 52 children adopted in the first 6 months of life within the U.K. The children from Romania with autistic patterns showed clinical features closely similar to “ordinary” autism at 4 years but they differed with respect to the improvement seen by age 6 years, to an equal sex ratio, and to a normal head circumference. The children from Romania with autistic features tended to differ from the other Romanian adoptees with respect to a greater degree of cognitive impairment and a longer duration of severe psychological privation.
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