Each individual with autism has unique strengths and areas of challenge, and providers have struggled to find interventions suited for the broad profiles of this population. The researchers analyzed a group of 188 preschoolers with autism to identify 3 statistically distinct “clusters” of children. Cluster 1 included preschoolers with high cognitive, linguistic, and adaptive skills, and low levels of repetitive behaviors and sensory sensitivities. Cluster 2 included children with similarly high levels of cognitive and linguistic skills, but more repetitive behaviors and social skill difficulties than cluster 1. Cluster 3 included children with low cognitive, linguistic, and adaptive skills, more sensory sensitivities, and more difficulty with social skills. This study provides some preliminary evidence for distinct autism subgroups; further research should investigate the presence of these subgroups in other samples and how children in these clusters respond to various treatments.

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