Psychiatric and Medical Profiles of Autistic Adults in the SPARK Cohort

SPARK Consortium, Suma Jacob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This study examined lifetime medical and psychiatric morbidity reported by caregivers of 2917 autistic adults participating in the US research cohort SPARK. Participants were 78.4% male, 47.3% had intellectual disability, and 32.1% had persistent language impairments. Childhood language disorders (59.7%), speech/articulation problems (32.8%), sleep (39.4%) and eating problems (29.4%), motor delays (22.8%) and history of seizure (15.5%) were the most frequently reported clinical features. Over two thirds (67.2%) had been diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder (anxiety disorders: 41.1%; ADHD: 38.7%). Compared to verbally fluent participants, those with language impairments had lower frequencies of almost all psychiatric disorders. Female sex and older age were associated with higher medical and psychiatric morbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3679-3698
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number10
Early online dateFeb 24 2020
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by a grant from the Simons Foundation (SPARK Award ID 383303) to EF.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Adult
  • Autism
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Medical
  • Psychiatric
  • Sex

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Journal Article


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