Catatonia in autistic spectrum disorders: a medical treatment algorithm

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2006;72:233-44. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7742(05)72014-6.


Autism is a developmental syndrome with an unknown biology and inadequate therapeutics. Assessing the elements of the syndrome for the presence of depression, psychosis, mania, or catatonia, offers opportunities for systematic intervention. Since almost all descriptions of autism highlight the presence of motor symptoms that characterize catatonia, an assessment for this eminently treatable syndrome is recommended for all patients considered to be autistic. A minimum examination includes a catatonia rating scale and for those patients with defined catatonia, a lorazepam test. For those whose catatonia responds to lorazepam, high dose lorazepam therapy is recommended. If this fails, electroconvulsive therapy is recommended. The assessment and treatment of catatonia offers positive medical therapy for the victims of autism and their families.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Autistic Disorder / complications*
  • Autistic Disorder / therapy*
  • Catatonia / complications*
  • Catatonia / diagnosis
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lorazepam / therapeutic use
  • Male


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Lorazepam