Catatonia in neurodevelopmental disorders: assessing catatonic deterioration from baseline

Lancet Psychiatry. 2023 Mar;10(3):228-234. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(22)00436-9. Epub 2023 Jan 25.


Despite the inclusion of catatonia as a specifier of autism spectrum disorder in DSM-5, we-a team of child and adolescent neuropsychiatrists who specialise in paediatric catatonia and neurodevelopmental disorders-have identified a number of issues with the diagnosis and clinical management of catatonia in our patients. In this Personal View, we summarise the literature regarding catatonia in people with neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder, describe our concerns, and offer a novel approach to addressing important issues with current diagnostic and treatment paradigms. We emphasise the need for a measure to diagnose and monitor people with catatonia and their history of neurodevelopmental disorders. This measure should consider previous complex and underlying motor, medical, functional, and neurobehavioural symptoms. We propose two concepts for understanding catatonia that relate to the baseline status of an individual: the personalised score at baseline, an estimate of premorbid neurobehavioral and motor symptoms, and the catatonic deterioration from baseline, an estimate of current features that are due to catatonia rather than an underlying neurodevelopmental disorder. We hope this measure will provide a practical tool for clinicians and researchers working with this underserved and high-risk population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / complications
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Catatonia* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors