The word schizophrenia brings can bring many thoughts to a person’s mind from the ways it is portrayed in movies and on TV. Schizophrenia is a scary diagnosis and is rare in children. Often it is seen on the autism spectrum and can be mistaken for autism.
Autism and schizophrenia are heterogeneous disorders with presentations that vary across severity-graded spectra. There has been longstanding interest in understanding the relationship between these two disorders. Initially, it was believed that autism was the earliest manifestation of schizophrenia, which then presented fully in late adolescence or early adulthood (Bender 1947). Later, Kolvin
(1971) and Rutter (1972) suggested the two disorders were functionally distinct, and empirical research demonstrated that individuals diagnosed with autism did not develop schizophrenia at a rate higher than the general population (Mouridsen et al. 1999; Sporn et al. 2004; Volkmar and Cohen 1991). More recently, it has been proposed that the presence of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including high functioning autism, Asperger’s Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS), may be a nonspecific marker of severe early abnormal neurodevelopment
present in disorders including schizophrenia. Consistent with this view, multiple studies have documented premorbid childhood social difficulties and oddness in individuals later diagnosed with schizophrenia (Schiffman et al. 2004; Walker et al. 1993); and
Sporn et al. (2004) found that ASD was present in 25% of a cohort of children diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia. Developing a better understanding of differences between the autism and schizophrenia is important both clinically and scientifically. For clinicians, early accurate diagnosis of both disorders is imperative given its association with improved language and social functioning in autism (Ozonoff et al. 2007) and the relationship between untreated illness duration and...