Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 593–600

Correlation of family history with specific autistic subgroups: Asperger's syndrome and bipolar affective disease

  • G. Robert DeLong
  • Judith T. Dwyer

DOI: 10.1007/BF02211877

Cite this article as:
Robert DeLong, G. & Dwyer, J.T. J Autism Dev Disord (1988) 18: 593. doi:10.1007/BF02211877


The etiology of infantile autism is not known. To assess the possible role of familial psychopathology, we investigated a group of autistic subjects subgrouped by level of language functin. Family histories were obtained by the family history method. Neurological status was assessed by neurological diagnostic examination and prenatal and perinatal history. The results showed a high incidence of Asperger's syndrome in family members of high-functioning autistic subjects only. The rate of bipolar affective disorder in family members was 4.2%, higher than in the general population; it was significantly higher in families with Asperger's syndrome, suggesting an etiological link between Asperger's syndrome and manic depression. Positive neurological findings were concentrated in the low-functioning subgroup. These findings imply different etiologies for high- versus low-functioning autism, with high-functioning autism related to familial factors, especially Asperger's syndrome.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Robert DeLong
    • 1
  • Judith T. Dwyer
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Pediatric NeurologyDuke UniversityMedical CenterUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyTufts New England Medical CenterUSA