Background: There is increasing evidence that catatonia is an important source of impairment in adolescents and adults with autism. Aim: Review of the evaluation, diagnosis, differential diagnosis, and treatment of catatonia in autism. Method: Presentation and discussion of a case-vignette spanning early childhood to adulthood. Results: Autistic and catatonic symptoms overlap, yet catatonia is diagnosable in about one of seven adolescents and young adults with autism. Case-reports suggest that benzodiazepines and electroconvulsive therapy are effective treatments in the acute and maintenance phase for people with autism who develop catatonia. Conclusions: Catatonia should be assessed in people with autism when there is an obvious and marked deterioration in movement, vocalizations, pattern of activities, self-care, and practical skills. Benzodiazepines and electroconvulsive therapy are favored options for acute and maintenance treatment in these cases. Further studies on the possible biological-genetic overlap between autism and catatonia would be helpful.
- Electroconvulsive therapy
- Pervasive developmental disorders
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health