An Analysis by Kenneth Gadow, PhD Sheds New Light on Relationships Between Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Kenneth Gadow, PhD

In an article published in Research in Developmental Disabilities, Professor Kenneth Gadow, PhD analyzed correlations among the severity of symptoms of schizophrenia spectrum disorder and the three defining symptom domains of autism spectrum disorder (social deficits, communication deficits and perseverative behaviors) in children with autism spectrum disorder and in clinic patients without the disorder, using both parent and teacher rating scales and controlling for the presence or absence of ADHD. While he identified several moderate to large correlations between specific symptoms and domains, he also found wide variations in the strength of the relationships, leading to the conclusion that the associations between the symptoms of schizophrenia spectrum disorder and autism spectrum disorder are dimension specific. This conclusion supports the need to deconstruct complex clinical phenotypes when conducting research on these overlapping syndromes.

Sorting out the relationships among the symptoms of schizophrenia spectrum disorder and autism spectrum disorder in pre-pubertal youth is fraught with challenges because both disorders are multidimensional, difficult to characterize and complicated by a variety of comorbidities. But progress in identifying risk factors and developing more effective treatments is dependent on a more precise understanding of the relationships between them. Dr. Gadow’s analysis suggests that this can best be done at the level of the individual symptoms and symptom domains. 

Dr. Gadow is a member of the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University. His article is titled “Association of schizophrenia spectrum and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms in children with ASD and clinic controls.”