Objectives: This study examines adults with ASD to (1) determine the presence of co-morbid psychiatric disorders and (2) identify the patterns of psychiatric symptoms and disorders affecting this population-based adult ASD sample.
Methods: As part of a large adult outcomes study, individuals with ASD (and their caregivers) ascertained during a 1980’s state-wide Utah autism epidemiological study participated in a semi-structured interview querying the current and lifetime presence of psychiatric symptoms. The Mini PAS-ADD Interview was administered to caregivers of 132 participants between the ages of 24 and 54 with either DSM III autism (N= 107) identified in the original study or DSM-IV-TR autism spectrum disorder (N= 25), identified during a reclassification study. We applied the established cut-off scores to determine case definition for each disorder.
Results: Of the 132 participants, 73 (55%) met the case definition for a current co-morbid psychiatric disorder and 92 (70%) for a lifetime co-morbid psychiatric disorder. The most frequently experienced co-occurring psychiatric disorder for both current and lifetime conditions was Anxiety Disorder, [N = 51 (39%) and 70 (53%), respectively]. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder was also quite common, affecting 43 (33%) participants currently and 48 (36%) participants during their lifetime. Other co-occurring psychiatric disorders, current and lifetime respectively, were Depressive Disorder [1 (1%), 17 (13%)], Expansive Mood [2 (2%), 8 (6%)], and psychosis [6 (5%), 13 (10%)].
Conclusions: Co-morbid psychiatric disorders occur frequently in adults with ASD. Using standard criteria, adapted for individuals with intellectual disability, is an effective means of identifying psychiatric disorders in this population.