A Comparison of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and a dual diagnosis of ASD + Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD): A Case Study




Kata, Karolina
Chang, Shannon
Ganesh, Abhinaya
Mauk, Joyce
Bowman, Paul
Bailey, Laurie
Hamby, Tyler
Miller, Haylie


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Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), and the dual diagnosis of ASD+DCD often have longer diagnostic trajectories given the complexity of their symptom profiles and associated difficulty with differential diagnosis. While first concerns may originate from parents, schools, or medical professionals, it may take years of waiting and assessments to reach a final diagnosis. Patients with co-occurring disorders can undergo a lengthier process as symptoms of 1 disorder may mask symptoms of another and create confusions within a care team. By understanding differences in the lines of service visited, symptoms, and parent concerns exist for patients with and without a dual diagnosis, we aim to identify potential targets for improvement in the diagnostic process. Case Information: Patient 1 (ASD+DCD) is a Caucasian female who presented with first concerns at 2 years and reached an ASD diagnosis at 6.25 years and a DCD diagnosis at 2 years. She was recommended and utilized speech therapy (ST), occupational therapy (OT), and physical therapy (PT). She had 9 visits with professionals and was assessed with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Patient 2 (ASD) is a Hispanic male with first concerns at 2 years and reached a final diagnosis at 6.5 years. While he was recommended ST, OT, and PT, he only utilized ST. He had 10 visits with professionals before reaching his diagnosis and was assessed with the ASQ, ADOS, and Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ). Both were first seen by Pediatrics and were given a final diagnosis at Child Study Center. Conclusions: The age when a reliable diagnosis for ASD or DCD can be made is 1.5 and 5 years, respectively. However, the average age of diagnosis for ASD or DCD is 4.9 and 7.8 years. While patient 1 reached her DCD diagnosis at 2 years, both patients received their ASD diagnoses later than average. Several factors, such as the physician’s knowledge, clinical resources, sex, socioeconomic status, cultural and language barriers, and co-occurrence with ADHD may play a role in explaining this delay in diagnosis.