Liliana Dell’Osso, Benedetta Nardi, Chiara Bonelli, Giulia Amatori, Maria Alessandra Pereyra, Enrico Massimetti, Ivan Mirko Cremone, Stefano Pini, Barbara Carpita

Autistic Traits as Predictors of Increased Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder Severity: The Role of Inflexibility and Communication Impairment

  • General Neuroscience

Due to similar manifestations, some authors have proposed a potential correlation between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). This link has long been recognized and debated, with some authors arguing that these disorders frequently occur comorbid but distinct while others believe they are part of the same spectrum. The aim of our study was to explore the prevalence and correlates of autistic traits in 55 OCD patients and 55 matched controls and to assess possible autistic dimensions predictive of higher OCD symptoms. All participants were assessed with the Obsessive–Compulsive Spectrum-Short Version (OBS-SV) and the Adult Autism Subthreshold Spectrum (AdAS Spectrum). The OCD group scored significantly higher in both questionnaires. Total OBS-SV scores and domains were significantly correlated with all AdAS Spectrum domains and total score. The AdAS Spectrum total, Verbal Communication and Inflexibility and adherence to routine domain scores were significant positive predictors of higher OBS-SV scores. Lastly, when two clusters of subjects (high and low autism) were determined, Inflexibility and adherence to routine domain presented the greatest influence in forming the clusters. Our findings support the association between OCD and autistic traits in the adult population, supporting the hypothesis of a neurodevelopmental basis for these psychiatric conditions.

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