When the shy, dark-haired boy met with clinicians for a full psychiatric evaluation two years ago, almost everything about him pointed to autism...But something else was clearly at work, too.
“He had these things that he would call day dreams,” recalls Jennifer Foss-Feig, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York...As these frightening episodes grew more frequent, they raised a red flag.
Ultimately, they diagnosed him with autism and psychosis, which, Foss-Feig says, was probably due to schizophrenia.
This combination of features, it turns out, is not all that unusual. Studies have found elevated rates of autism among young people with childhood-onset schizophrenia, in which the features of schizophrenia appear before age 13 rather than in late adolescence. And although autism and schizophrenia are characterized differently in popular books and film, scientists have long suspected that the two conditions are somehow linked.
Scientists are starting to compare the social deficits autism and schizophrenia share, using a variety of methods...A definitive picture of the relationship between the two is probably still a long way off. In the meantime, this research may help to explain how social cognition breaks down in each condition — which could lead to more nuanced clinical profiles and better treatments for both.
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