Introduction: Intellectual disability (ID) is one of the strongest predictors of outcomes for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Behavioral problems that are commonly observed in autism may be related to the core features of ASD or comorbid diagnoses.
Aims: To assess the prevalence of ASD in those with ID referred for disability assessment and the associated medical and psychological comorbid issues.
Materials and methods: The present study was a cross-sectional study that included 133 children with mild or moderate ID between 6 and 18 years of age. The study tools used were Indian Scale for Assessment of Autism (ISAA), Behavior Problems Inventory (BPI), and a questionnaire to assess medical symptoms.
Results: The prevalence of comorbid ASD in children with ID was 16.39%. Individuals with ASD had higher behavioral problems (p = 0.001) and medical issues that included gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (constipation, p = 0.001; bloating, p = 0.03; and abdominal pain, p = 0.03) and seizure (p = 0.002). Children with severe ASD scores had higher behavioral problem scores.
Conclusion: Individuals with ID who were referred for disability assessment had a significant prevalence of ASD. These children had higher behavioral problems and medical issues. It is thus important to screen for ASD in individuals with ID for better management of these individuals.