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Ireland has an ageing population of persons with intellectual disability (ID), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and both (ID/ASD). Despite this, little is known about the prevalence of ASD and its effect on functional outcomes, psychiatric comorbidity or diagnostic issues in an older population with ID. This article reviews the literature on older adults with ID/ASD and identifies opportunities for future research in this population.
The authors searched the Medline, Pubmed, Embase, CINAHL and PsychInfo databases using the search terms using key words: (older adults) AND (ID OR mental retardation OR learning disability) AND (autism OR ASD). After excluding articles for relevance, a scoping review was carried out on the results retrieved.
Of the 1227 articles retrieved from the literature on ID and autism/ASD in older adults, 85 articles were relevant to an adult population with ID/ASD. The data were collated and are presented covering domains of diagnosis, prevalence, psychiatric comorbidities and functional outcomes.
Despite increased prevalence in childhood ASD in the last 20 years, there is a lack of research regarding adults, especially older adults, with ASD, up to half of whom will have some level of ID. The existing literature suggests that older adults with ID/ASD may have reduced functional independence, increased psychiatric comorbidity and psychotropic prescribing and more behavioural presentations than the older population generally or those with ID only. There is a need for longitudinal data to be collected on this ageing population so that care and management needs can be met in the future.
There are no large scale studies on Epilepsy in populations with Learning disability in Ireland. As many as one fifth of these clients have epilepsy. Aggressive treatment may lead to diminishing returns in terms of symptomatic control, while causing unwanted effects.
1. We aimed to quantify rates of epilepsy, aetiology and anti- epileptic drug (AED) use in our population.
2. To look at degree of disability and correlation with AED use.
3. To look at management/ quality of life issues using a validated instrument.
1. Medline review using search terms Intellectual OR Learning difficult* OR Mental Retard* AND Epilepsy.
2. Simple questionnaire used to identify all clients with Epilepsy. Database analysed using SPSS analysis.
3. 11 cases selected for review looking at qualitative aspects, using Semi structured interview and GEOS scale.
· 210 patients found to have a history of epilepsy (42% of clients).
· Multiple Aetiologies identified. Commonest known Aetiology: Trisomy 21.
· Polypharmacy is common. Most commonly used AED: Sodium Valproate. Mean AED use: 1.595 (SD+- 1.077).
· Clients with Trisomy 21 aged less than 40 tended to be on more medication (2.05, SD= +-1.38) than those over 40 years (1.43, SD= +- 0.89)
· Greater concerns on qualitative measures regarding clients with refractory epilepsy or where epilepsy changed over time.
Our study highlights previously recognised changing patterns in aetiology of Learning Disability and also the changes over time in these clients. More study is required.