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Obsessions and compulsions in Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism

  • Ailsa J. Russell (a1), David Mataix-Cols (a2), Martin Anson (a1) and Declan G. M. Murphy (a3)
Abstract
Background

Obsessive–compulsive behaviours are common and disabling in autistic-spectrum disorders (ASD) but little is known about how they compare with those experienced by people with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).

Aim

To make such a comparison.

Method

A group of adults with high-functioning ASD (n=40) were administered the Yale–Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale and Symptom Checklist and their symptoms compared with a gender-matched group of adults with a primary diagnosis of OCD (n=45). OCD symptoms were carefully distinguished from stereotypic behaviours and interests usually displayed by those with ASD.

Results

The two groups had similar frequencies of obsessive–compulsive symptoms, with only somatic obsessions and repeating rituals being more common in the OCD group. The OCD group had higher obsessive–compulsive symptom severity ratings but up to 50% of the ASD group reported at least moderate levels of interference from their symptoms.

Conclusions

Obsessions and compulsions are both common in adults with high-functioning ASD and are associated with significant levels of distress.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Ms Ailsa J. Russell, Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, PO Box 77, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF. Tel: 020 7848 0655; fax: 020 7848 5006; e-mail: a.russell@iop.kcl.ac.uk
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Obsessions and compulsions in Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism

  • Ailsa J. Russell (a1), David Mataix-Cols (a2), Martin Anson (a1) and Declan G. M. Murphy (a3)
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