Autonomic Symptoms Endorsed By Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Friday, May 13, 2016: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
B. K. Woodruff1, J. Adams2, M. Temkit3 and B. Goodman1, (1)Neurology, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ, (2)Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, (3)Research Biostatistics, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ
Background:  Autonomic features such as abnormal skin conductance and pupillary responses have been reported in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), but to our knowledge no systematic approach to identifying autonomic symptomatology has been conducted in adults with ASDs.

Objectives:  To quantify autonomic symptoms endorsed by a sample of adults with ASDs on the Compass 31, a survey instrument that captures multiple autonomic symptoms.

Methods:  The Compass 31, a quantitative measure of autonomic symptomatology was administered anonymously to 48 adults with ASDs.  Subjects were recruited at local autism community meetings or were mailed the instrument after expressing interest in participation.  The latter subjects were identified from a database maintained by the Arizona State University Autism/Asperger’s Research Program.

Results:  Weighted Compass 31 total and subscale scores [mean (SD), (range)] were as follows:  Total score (Maximum = 100) - 23.5 (16.1), (2.8-60.7); Orthostatic intolerance subscale (Maximum = 40) - 9.5 (9.8), (0.0-28.0); Vasomotor subscale (Maximum = 5) - 0.6 (1.2), (0.0-4.2); Secretomotor subscale (Maximum = 15) - 3.7 (3.2), (0.0-10.7); Gastrointestinal subscale (Maximum = 25) - 6.2 (3.8), (0.0-18.7); Bladder subscale (Maximum = 10) - 1.2 (1.5), (0.0-6.7); Pupillomotor subscale (Maximum = 5) - 1.8 (1.3), (0.0-5.0).  The most commonly endorsed subscales (weighted subscale score > 0) in this sample were Gastrointestinal (97.9%) and Pupillomotor (83.3%).

Conclusions: Autonomic symptomatology was not uncommon in this sample of adults with ASDs, with gastrointestinal and pupillomotor symptoms commonly endorsed.  Such symptomatology may represent autonomic dysfunction amenable to therapeutic intervention, which will need to be confirmed in future studies including clinical autonomic testing.  Amelioration of such symptomatology may help to improve quality of life for a subset of individuals with ASDs.

Supported by: Mayo Clinic Intramural Career Development Award