Autism spectrum disorder scale scores in pediatric mood and anxiety disorders

Daniel S Pine, Amanda E Guyer, Michelle Goldwin, Kenneth A Towbin, and Ellen Leibenluft (2008). J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 47(6):652-61.

OBJECTIVE: To compare scores on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptom scales inhealthy youths and youths with mood or anxiety disorders. METHOD: A total of 352youths were recruited (107 healthy participants, 88 with an anxiety disorder, 32with major depressive disorder, 62 with bipolar disorder, and 63 with a mood disorder characterized by severe nonepisodic irritability). Participants received structured psychiatric interviews and parent ratings on at least one of three ASD symptom scales: Children’s Communication Checklist, Social Communication Questionnaire, and Social Responsiveness Scale. RESULTS: Relative to healthy youths, youths with mood or anxiety disorders exhibited higher scores on each ASD symptom scale. ASD symptom scale scores also showed an association with impairment severity and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Among patientswith mood disorders but not those with anxiety disorders, consistent, statistically significant associations between diagnosis and ASD symptom scale scores remained even after controlling for potential confounders. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with mood disorders exhibit higher scores on ASD symptom scales than healthy youths or youths with anxiety disorders. These data should alert clinicians to the importance of assessing ASD symptoms to identify social reciprocity and communication deficits as possible treatment targets in pediatric mood and anxiety disorders.

Link to PubMed entry