Dual Diagnosis for Students with ASD: Recognizing Catatonia

Presented by Ruth Aspy, Ph.D., Psychologist, Author & National Speaker

Catatonia is a disorder experienced by 12 to 18% of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Many experts believe that the actual prevalence rate of catatonia in ASD is higher than 18%. That means that if you know 20 people with ASD, it is likely that 2 of them also have catatonia. What is catatonia? Like autism, catatonia impacts posture/movement, speech, mood, and behavior. Catatonia manifests in opposing ways -immobility (stuckness) and excitability. It is important for professionals and parents who care for children and adolescents with ASD to recognize the signs of catatonia. In autism, early catatonia-related symptoms can advance into full-blown catatonia. When that happens, it can be terribly incapacitating or even life-threatening/fatal. The longer catatonia is left untreated in individuals with autism, the harder it is to reverse. Participants will learn to recognize the signs of catatonia in individuals with ASD.

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