Background: We aimed to describe similarities and differences in the developmental course of psychopathology between children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID). Method: Multilevel growth curve analysis was used to analyse the developmental course of psychopathology, using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), in two longitudinal multiple-birth-cohort samples of 6- to 18-year-old children with ID (N=978) and without ID (N=2,047) using three repeated measurements across a 6-year period. Results: Children with ID showed a higher level of problem behaviours across all ages compared to children without ID. A significant difference between the samples in the developmental courses was found for Aggressive Behaviour and Attention Problems, where children with ID showed a significantly larger decrease. Gender differences in the development of psychopathology were similar in both samples, except for Social Problems where males with ID showed a larger decrease in problem behaviour across time than females with ID and males and females without ID. Conclusion: Results indicate that children with ID continue to show a greater risk for psychopathology compared to typically developing children, although this higher risk is less pronounced at age 18 than it is at age 6 for Aggressive Behaviour. Contrary to our expectations, the developmental course of psychopathology in children with ID was quite similar from age 6 to 18 compared to children without ID. The normative developmental trajectories of psychopathology in children with ID, presented here, can serve as a yardstick against which development of childhood psychopathology can be detected as deviant. © 2007 The Authors Journal compilation

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Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam