Overlap: Autism and Schizophrenia – Considerable confusion surrounds the overlapping of autism and schizophrenia

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

Author:   Michael Fitzgerald (Professor of Child Psychiatry, based at Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College, Dublin, UK)
Citation:  Michael Fitzgerald , (2014) “Overlap between autism and schizophrenia: history and current status”,Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 8 Iss: 1, pp.15 – 23
ABSTRACT
Purpose

- Considerable confusion surrounds the overlapping of autism and schizophrenia. This has significant implications for clinicians given that correct diagnosis is critical for treatment.

Design/methodology/approach

-This paper sets out to clarify the position by reviewing the history and current status of the relationship between autism and schizophrenia. A general review was conducted using a chronological approach that focused on phenomenology, aetiology, genetic mechanisms and treatment.

Findings

- Persons with autism are far more rigid, have difficulties set shifting and get far more upset and aggressive when their routines have changed. They have far more severe theory of mind and empathy deficits than those with schizophrenia.

Research limitations/implications

- Future diagnostic refinement by means of molecular genetic studies will alter the diagnostic categories. Further studies of the conditions of autism and schizophrenia are therefore necessary.

Practical implications

- Both conditions need treatment both clinically and practically.

Originality/value

- This paper elucidates the relationship between autism and schizophrenia from a historical and current perspective. It emerges that this confusion is likely to be resolved by molecular genetic studies that will alter the diagnostic categories.