Friday, March 28, 2008

What are Comorbid Conditions and how do they fit into Aspergers.

Comorbid conditions are "extra problems" that go hand in hand with Aspergers.

There is still a bit of debate over whether these conditions exist separately or whether they are actually just facets or side-effects of Aspergers. Personally, I tend to favor the latter explanation for the most part although I'd agree that some of the stronger comorbids probably are stand-alone.

Comorbids can include a host of mental, adaptive and emotive disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD and ADD), Depression, Anxiety, aggression, Learning disabilities and several other disorders, phobias and conditions.

Some comorbid conditions don't show themselves until adulthood and every aspie has a different combination of comorbid conditions various strengths. This is a problem which makes Aspergers difficult to diagnose. Often, one or more of the comorbid conditions is more noticeable than the others and will be picked up early. This often leads to a "wrong diagnosis" in that the comorbid is seen as the condition, rather than a symptom of Aspergers.

The delay in the Aspergers diagnosis and the effects of re-diagnosis can have a profound effect on families, social and school life. If you strongly suspect Aspergers but have received a comorbid diagnosis, you might want to seek a second opinion before accepting it.

One good thing about the comorbid conditions is that their effects can often be treated/reduced by conventional medicines in much the same way as their "sister" conditions can be treated. Medicines like Ritalin can help with ADD, while others can help with Schizophrenia, self-harm, depression and anxiety.

There is no medication that can counter the effects of aspergers - but you can certainly keep the comorbid conditions under control.


Bryan said...

A well-written post. Agree with you. You can learn more on how to cure attention deficit disorder at It may take quite some time to cure, but it's definitely a good try.

Meredith said...

Yes, from what I've experienced at the self-advocacy group we started, AS seldom comes alone. In my case, the "sister condition" is dyscalculia, which is a bigger problem for me than AS itself is, preventing me to have a hard science career and thus be a valuable person. (It was left undx'd and untreated until now, and with LDs treatment grows exponentially harder as you age.)

My shrink told me that she thought these two cannot affect one simultaneously, as AS represents systematic "manly" thinking and DC represents "womanly" thinking designed for more flexible things than math. All she knew about the whole thing was Baron-Cohen's theory, which obviously didn't include me.

Tom said...

It is the first time I hear about Aspergers. By the way, what does Aspergers actually mean? I need more explanation about it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the insightful and well-reasoned musings on Aspergers Syndrome comorbidity. I have Aspergers and ADD (no H), and I came to the same conclusions as you. No Ritalin for me, though, as I respond poorly to it.

I have another "comorbid" condition which I'd assumed was coincidental, but I recently discovered that a small number of others have it as well, so I'm open to suggestion. I have Schuermann's Kyphosis, a pronounced forward curvature of the spine for which I have worn an upper-body brace these past four years. On the surface, it seemed unlikely that these conditions could be related, but someone pointed out to me that the spinal cord is essentially an extension of the brain. Do you know whether any professional literature (as opposed to "isn't it cool that I have these" internet speculations) has suggested a common denominator?



Gavin Bollard said...


I've not heard of any studies linking the two but you certainly wouldn't be the first person I've talked to who has both aspergers and Schuermann's Kyphosis.

I wonder if it's entirely spinal or if low muscle tone could have had any impact?

Anonymous said...

Hello, Gavin.

Curiously, it was the OVERdevelopment of the dorsii (no, not Tommy & Jimmy) alongside my spine that saved me from the surgery that was necessary for two cousins. At age 15, they each had to have metal bars attached to their spines to recover the proper shape and structural strength. But my muscles "hulked out" back there, and the thoracic vertebrae fused, giving me another 35 years before it all collapsed. You're right about the muscles in this sense, though: I lost 35 pounds in 15 weeks to deal with high cholesterol, but the dorsii were much reduced as a result, and this may have hastened the reckoning.

Thanks for confirming that there are others with this comorbidity in sufficient numbers that I need not hold my reasoning suspect!



Anonymous said...

I have both too. I'm not sure they're related but we can doubly sympathize.

Anonymous said...

Those who have issues with spine/bone, have you looked into Marfan Syndrome? Quite interesting - think it's worth having a look -

Best of luck to all!

Anonymous said...

Is there a chart somewhere that shows Aspergers comorbidity with other syndromes / conditions / whatever? OCD, AD(H)D, Bipolar, PTSD, etc. I'm particularly interested in Aspergers PTSD comorbidity.

Literat said...

In fact, there is a chart, see table 4 here:

Interestingly, ASD traits are also listed for nearly all behavorial symptomes in Klinefelter's syndrome (genotype XXY) meaning there could be a genetic link between an extra X chromosome and ASD. ADHD is also frequently observed with XXY males.

Check out:

Best regards,

Karen Hill said...

Hi all, Interesting reading, I am reading this with interest for myself and my son, as I read more info the more I believe that I may have aspergers, anxiety, curvature of the spine and suffer from sciatica caused by two twisted vertebrae, if im stressed and or not looking after myself I can trigger it,I have found that I get stressed very easy, and have wondered why for so long, and now have a better understanding for my son and myself. yours karen

Karen Hill said...

this feels like a robotic thing to do lol

久保田 ザンドラ said...

My husband was recently diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. He also has a really curved back!
I came across this site which seems to link scoliosis and autism as well: