Catatonia in autism: a distinct subtype?

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2005 Jan;49(Pt 1):102-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2005.00666.x.


Catatonia is a life-threatening disorder characterized by motor abnormalities, mutism, and disturbances of behaviour, which is increasingly being diagnosed in persons with autism. In this report, we describe the presentation and course of catatonia in an adolescent with autism who responded to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The illness started with depressive symptoms, but the predominant feature was one of extreme obsessive slowing and immobility. We propose that catatonia should be ruled out as a cause of regression sometimes seen in adolescents with autism, and that catatonia of autism may index a distinct subtype with a particularly poor outcome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / therapeutic use
  • Autistic Disorder / complications*
  • Catatonia / complications*
  • Catatonia / diagnosis*
  • Catatonia / therapy
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / methods
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Citalopram