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Overlap between autism and schizophrenia: history and current status

Michael Fitzgerald (Professor of Child Psychiatry, based at Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College, Dublin, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Article publication date: 1 January 2014

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.

Keywords

Citation

Fitzgerald, M. (2014), "Overlap between autism and schizophrenia: history and current status", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 15-23. https://doi.org/10.1108/AMHID-09-2013-0058

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited