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Varieties of Misdiagnosis in ASD: An Illustrative Case Series


The relationship between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and psychotic disorders (PD) is a focus of continued interest. There are substantial conceptual and clinical difficulties associated with diagnosing comorbid PD in individuals who have ASD. In this case series, we report on five cases where adolescents with previously diagnosed ASD were also diagnosed as psychotic. In each case, we found that these patients’ ‘psychotic’ symptoms could be better understood as a part of their underlying ASD diagnosis, with significant implications for treatment, prognosis, and access to services. This misdiagnosis likely represents a combination of adult psychiatrists being relatively inexperienced with this population, and the system of care requiring providers to apply diagnostic labels to justify inpatient hospitalization.

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The contributions of Dr James C McPartland were supported by Grant NIMH K23 MH086785.

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Correspondence to Gerrit I. Van Schalkwyk.

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Van Schalkwyk, G.I., Peluso, F., Qayyum, Z. et al. Varieties of Misdiagnosis in ASD: An Illustrative Case Series. J Autism Dev Disord 45, 911–918 (2015).

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  • Comorbidity
  • Autism and psychosis
  • Misdiagnosis in autism