Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 192–202 | Cite as

Repetitive Behaviors in Autism and Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder: New Perspectives from a Network Analysis

Original Paper


The association between autism and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) seems largely dependent upon observed similarities in the repetitive behaviors that manifest in both disorders. The aim of this study was to use a network approach to explore the interactions between these behaviors. We constructed a network based on clinician’s perceptions as well as a network based on 213 clinically diagnosed children. In all networks, autism and OCD emerged as two distinct symptom clusters and obsessions and compulsions showed few direct associations with autism symptoms. Further, sensory interests were identified as behaviors that may contribute to the link between autism and OCD. Through network analysis, we expose the symptom pathways that may lead to the perceived association between autism and OCD.


Autism Obsessive–compulsive disorder OCD Repetitive behaviors Network analysis 



The clinical sample was collected during the PhD of Dr. Hilde M. Geurts at the Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. We want to thank her mentors, Jaap Oosterlaan, Joe Sergeant, and Herbert Roeyers for supervising the data collection. We would especially like to thank Sylvie Verté, who collected a large portion of this data during her PhD at the University of Gent, Belgium.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Ruzzano
    • 1
    • 2
  • Denny Borsboom
    • 3
  • Hilde M. Geurts
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Research and Development, Dr. Leo KannerhuisCenter for AutismAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Dutch Autism and ADHD Research Center (d’Arc)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Cognitive Science Center AmsterdamUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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