Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 9, pp 2679–2689 | Cite as

Screening of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Geriatric Psychiatry

  • S. M. J. Heijnen-KohlEmail author
  • R. M. Kok
  • R. M. H. J. Wilting
  • G. Rossi
  • S. P. J. van Alphen
Original Paper


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are difficult to detect in old age. This study examined if ASD symptoms in older adults (age > 60) can be detected with the Dutch informant personality questionnaire, (Hetero-Anamnestische Persoonlijkheidsvragenlijst, HAP) in a mental health setting. Patients with ASD (N = 40) were compared to patients with a different psychiatric diagnosis (N = 43; personality disorders excluded). The ASD group had significant higher scores on the scales ‘Socially avoidant behavior’, ‘Rigid behavior’ and ‘Unpredictable and impulsive behavior’. These scales were able to discriminate between individuals with or without ASD. The HAP can thus be used as a screening instrument for ASD symptoms in elderly patients. Further research is needed to clarify what items have the best predictive validity for ASD symptoms.


Autism spectrum disorder Older adults Geriatric psychiatry Screening HAP 


Author Contributions

SHK initiated this study and its design and has executed the study, coordinated the acquisition of participants, executed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. RK has made substantial contributions to the conception, coordination and the design and the acquisition and interpretation of data and has revised the manuscript critically for intellectual content. RW conceived of the study, has made contributions to the acquisition and interpretation of data and has revised the manuscript critically for intellectual content. GR has participated in the design of the study and performed statistical analyses on the data and made substantial contribution to the interpretation of the data. She has helped to draft the manuscript and has revised it for intellectual content and for the statistical analyses. SA initiated and supervised this study, has made substantial contributions to the conception, coordination and the design of the study and the acquisition and interpretation of data. He has helped to draft the manuscript and has revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and have been approved by the medical-ethical committee of the academic hospital Maastricht (azM; approval number 14-4-002.4/ivb).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. J. Heijnen-Kohl
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. M. Kok
    • 2
  • R. M. H. J. Wilting
    • 3
  • G. Rossi
    • 4
  • S. P. J. van Alphen
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Old Age PsychiatryMondriaan HospitalHeerlen-MaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Old Age PsychiatryParnassia Psychiatric InstituteThe HagueThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Old Age PsychiatryGGzEEindhovenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Clinical and Lifespan PsychologyVrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)BrusselsBelgium

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