July 24, 2012

OCD? Or Autism

OCD is often misdiagnosed in autism. OCD is not a core deficit of autism, but is a co-occurring disorder, usually driven by anxiety and/or associated with depression. Repetitive behavior and need for sameness, routine, and structure are qualitatively different than OCD. Repetitive behavior, over-exaggerated interests, need for predictability/routine/
sameness are by-products of poor relative information processing, rigid/inflexible thinking, and difficulty with shifting gears (cognitively and emotionally), which are cognitive deficits of autism. They are attempts to decrease confusing stimulation, and providing some order to a confusing, overwhelming world. Obsessive/compulsive disorder is a fixation on a specific thought or behavior pattern that is driven by anxiety. The person has little control over it and usually doesn't know why they are doing it. Since it is driven by anxiety, if you try to block the compulsive behavior, usually the person's anxiety increases. So it is important to be careful to identify if the behavior is a functional byproduct of the cognitive deficits of autism and those which are obsessive/compulsive in nature.


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