Other Conditions With Symptoms Similar to Autism
Autism and several other related disorders are grouped
under the heading of
pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). These
disorders all have similar symptoms.
Also, there are several medical conditions that can be
confused with autism because of similar symptoms. Some of these medical
conditions can occur along with autism but are not classified as PDDs. They
- Intellectual disability. People with severe
intellectual disabilities may have many behaviors similar to those of autism but are
not necessarily autistic. People who are autistic can also be intellectually disabled.
- Specific developmental disorders. Some
developmental disorders, particularly language disorders, can mimic
- Schizophrenia. When schizophrenia
develops in childhood, which is rare, it can be confused with
- Selective mutism. In selective mutism, a child is able to
speak in some situations but unable to speak (is mute) in
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Some children with obsessive-compulsive disorder, like those with autism, have
unusual interests and repetitive behaviors. But unlike children with autism, children with
OCD are able to develop social and communication skills.
attachment disorder. In this disorder, there is usually a history of severe
neglect. Language and social skills usually begin to develop after a child is
given love and attention.
- Avoidant personality disorder. This
disorder is characterized by anxiety in dealing with social situations.
Specific diagnostic guidelines are used to distinguish autism from
other conditions.1 Although other PDDs and
certain medical conditions share some symptoms, they do not meet all
of the diagnostic criteria for autism.
American Psychiatric Association (2000). Autistic
disorder. In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text rev., pp. 70–75. Washington, DC: American
|Primary Medical Reviewer||John Pope, MD - Pediatrics|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Fred Volkmar, MD - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry|
|Last Revised||April 3, 2012|