, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 368-376,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Psychiatric Comorbidity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Comparison with Children with ADHD

Abstract

The present study was conducted with the aim to identify comorbid psychiatric disorders in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (n = 40) and to compare those comorbidity rates to those in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (n = 40). Participants were clinically referred children aged 7–18 years. DSM-IV classifications were used for the primary diagnosis (ASD/ADHD), while comorbid psychiatric disorders were assessed using a structured diagnostic interview, the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV, childhood diagnoses (KID-SCID). Twenty-three children with ASD (57.5 %) had at least one comorbid disorder, whereas 16 children with ADHD (40.0 %) were classified as having at least one comorbid disorder. No group differences were found with respect to this comorbidity rate or for the rate of comorbid externalizing disorders (ODD and/or CD). However, children with ASD had more comorbid internalizing disorders compared to children with ADHD. More specifically, children with ASD had higher rates of anxiety disorders, but not mood disorders. No associations between comorbidity and age or between comorbidity and the intelligence quotient was found. It is important for clinicians to always be aware of, and screen for, comorbidity, and to consider treatment for these comorbid disorders. In addition, research should focus on establishing valid and reliable screening tools as well as effective treatment options for these comorbid disorders.