Individuals with autism spectrum disorder are heterogeneous in clinical presentation, concurrent disorders, and developmental outcomes. This study characterized the clinical co-occurrences and potential subgroups in 160 children with autism spectrum disorders who presented to The Autism Center between 1999 and 2003. Medical and psychiatric co-occurrences included sleep disorders, epilepsy, food intolerance, gastrointestinal dysfunction, mood disorder, and aggressive and self-injurious behaviors. Sleep disorders were associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction (P < .05) and mood disorders (P < .01). Food intolerance was associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction (P = .001). Subjects with mood disorder tended to develop aggressive or self-injurious behaviors (P < .05). Developmental regression was not associated with increased co-occurrence of medical or psychiatric disorders. Medical co-occurrence did not present as a risk factor for psychiatric co-occurrence, and vice versa. These results showed a high prevalence of multiple medical and psychiatric co-occurrences. There may be common pathophysiologic mechanisms resulting in clinical subgroups of autism spectrum disorders. Recognition of the co-occurrence of concurrent disorders may provide insight into the therapeutic strategy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Clinical Neurology
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Psychiatric disorders