Original Article

Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 543-553

First online:

Phenomenology of Comorbid Autism Spectrum and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Among Children

  • Adam B. LewinAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Rothman Center for Neuropsychiatry Email author 
  • , Jeffrey J. WoodAffiliated withSchool of Education and Information Studies, University of California Los Angeles
  • , Sarah GundersonAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Rothman Center for Neuropsychiatry
  • , Tanya K. MurphyAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Rothman Center for Neuropsychiatry
  • , Eric A. StorchAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Rothman Center for Neuropsychiatry

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Abstract

The occurrence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is common (37% prevalence or higher) and results in additional distress and impairment. The phenomenology of OCD in youth with ASD is under-researched to date. This study compared the clinical characteristics of youth with comorbid ASD and OCD (ASD + OCD) with age and gender matched controls with OCD in 70 youth (7–13 years old). Youth with both syndromes did not present with more severe OCD symptoms. Obsessive-compulsive symptom severity and total number of obsessions and compulsions between the ASD + OCD group and the OCD group did not differ statistically. However, group differences in reports of specific OCD symptoms as well as patterns of comorbidity were identified. Attention deficit/hyperactivity symptoms, social phobia, and separation anxiety disorder were more common among youth with ASD + OCD. Better understanding of OCD/ASD co-morbidity may facilitate treatment development.

Keywords

Obsessive-compulsive disorder Autism Autism spectrum disorder Comorbidity Children Asperger syndrome OCD