Cluster analysis of autism spectrum disorder symptomatology: Qualitatively distinct subtypes or quantitative degrees of severity of a single disorder?

Vicki Bitsika, Wayne M. Arnold, Christopher F. Sharpley*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    The decision to collapse several related disorders into a single diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) generated significant controversy and debate. There has been mixed evidence as to whether various ASD subtypes are qualitatively distinct or if they exist on a spectrum of symptom severity. The present study conducted a two-step cluster analysis of major ASD symptoms in a sample of 147 young males with ASD aged between 6yr and 18yr with IQ > 70. Results indicated that a two-cluster solution (high and low severity of ASD symptomatology) was reliable and valid. Further, the construct of challenging behaviour was not a necessary component of the two-cluster solution, verifying the new conceptualisation of ASD. Further replication of these findings with other subsets of individuals with ASD is needed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-75
    Number of pages11
    JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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