Autism and Schizophrenia
Department of Psychiatry
Schizophrenia; Autistic Disorder
Although autism has long been recognized as a separate diagnostic entity from schizophrenia, both disorders share clinical features. Childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS), considered a rare and severe form of schizophrenia, frequently presents with premorbid developmental abnormalities. This prepsychotic developmental disorder includes deficits in communication, social relatedness, and motor development, similar to those seen in autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
This article highlights the biological and clinical links between the two disorders, reviewing shared genetics, brain changes, and similarities and differences in clinical presentations.
Autism and schizophrenia may present as 2 separate disorders that need to be differentiated, or as comorbid conditions. It is important to remember that some individuals may have both COS and ASD, which has implications when designing appropriate biopsychosocial interventions. Adult psychiatrists may benefit from additional training in the diagnosis of ASD in adults, whereas child psychiatrists may benefit from increased comfort with identifying primary psychotic symptoms in autistic youth.
Dvir Y, Frazier JA. (2011) Autism and Schizophrenia. Psychiatric Times. Vol. 28, No. 3., March 15, 2011. Link to article on publisher's website
Dvir, Yael and Frazier, Jean A., "Autism and Schizophrenia" (2011). Psychiatry Publications and Presentations. 485.