Rate of comorbid disorder higher than expected in young people with autism

person looking sad

The researchers in this study set out to investigate the rates and types of co-morbid disorders in a group of 84 young people (mean age 19.5 years) with autism.

They assessed mental disorder with a semi-structured comprehensive clinical interview with the participants and with caregivers and also used quantitative questionnaires.

The diagnoses were made according to DSM-IV-TR and International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition criteria. They found that 42% of the young people with autism in the sample had an additional co-morbid mental disorder.

The authors found a range of disorders, including mood disorders (17%), anxiety disorders (12%), adjustment disorders (8%), and disruptive behaviour disorders (12%).

They conclude that this rate of co-morbid disorder was higher than expected, being 2 to 4 times what would be expected in a similar group of typically developing young people.

Psychiatric comorbidity in adolescents and young adults with autism,  Moseley D et al., in Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities 4,4, 229-243

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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