Health-related Quality of Life in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Children with Down Syndrome
Introduction: Measuring health- related quality of life (HRQoL) is very important for children with developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Down syndrome (DS). However, no HRQoL studies found in the literature for the differences between children with ASD and children with DS. Aim: The aim of this study was to examine HRQoL in children with ASD and children with DS. Methods: The participants consisted of 206 children with ASD (61), DS (55) and typical development (TD) (90), aged 5-10 years old, after administering anonymous questionnaires to their parents-caregivers. The Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory ™ 4.0- Parent Report (PedsQL) was used to measure HRQoL. One-way analysis of variance and χ2 were applied for comparisons among groups. Results: TD group scored higher than ASD and DS in all comparisons. Post-hoc (Tukey) comparisons revealed that the statistically univariate effect was due to differences between the TD group and the other two groups, ASD and DS (p<0.01). The ASD group achieved significantly lower scores than DS in the emotional functioning scale. Post-hoc analysis did not reveal any significant differences between the DS and the ASD group in the physical health, psychosocial health and the total PedsQL summary scores. Conclusions: Children with ASD and DS had significantly lower HRQoL compared to a TD population, and this finding was not affected by age. Children with ASD demonstrated a significantly lower score in the emotional functioning scale than children with DS but are similar in the physical health scale. It is thus considered necessary to take the physical health scale into account when assessing and designing treatment for children with ASD. Future research studies should focus on HRQoL indicators that could serve as a standard diagnostic tool for the development of therapies and outcomes of assessment findings in ASD and DS.