Associated Conditions

It can be worth checking out some other conditions which are sometimes associated with HFA/AS. Certain psychiatric conditions are more common in people with HFA/AS than in the rest of the population, and it can be very useful to be aware of these as they can affect your learning style and/or your ability to cope with stress. Sometimes, a "secondary" problem like depression can be a bigger problem than the autistic spectrum condition itself.

One 1995 study showed that of a sample of people with AS, 2% also had Tourette's, 19% had OCD, 15% had clinical depression, and 28% had ADHD. In some cases, this may be because the conditions form part of a larger neurological "cluster" (this has been suggested with AS, Tourette's and OCD). In other cases, the stresses of living with HFA/AS (particularly when undiagnosed) may create a higher risk of emotional disorders.

However, you shouldn't panic and assume that just because you have HFA/AS you will necessarily develop another of these conditions - hypochondria can also be a big problem for people with HFA/AS ... :-).

If you can't find what you need through these links, try Internet Mental Health Links.

Tourette's Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome Association - Tourette's syndrome is characterized by vocal and motor tics, and is sometimes associated with other symptoms like rages, sensory problems and ADHD.

Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

National Attention Deficit Disorder Association- many people with ADD/ADHD have problems with social skills caused by difficulties concentrating, but some also have an autistic spectrum condition.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation - both HFA/AS and OCD involve obsessive behaviour, and some people with HFA/AS develop full-blown OCD.

Mood disorders and anxiety:

Depression and anxiety are major problems for many people with HFA/AS, particularly teenagers and young adults. My guess would be that this is not unrelated to factors such as loneliness, isolation, social stigma, being un-diagnosed or mis-diagnosed, and childhood experiences such as bullying and other school problems, but it may well also be exacerbated by autistic traits such as obsessive worrying.

Andrew's Depression Page - a useful collection of resources and links about depression.
Suicide: Read This First - PLEASE.
Pendulum Pages - resources on bipolar disorder/manic depression.
Anxiety Panic Internet Resource - Temple Grandin estimates in "Thinking in Pictures" that around half of all high-functioning autistic adults experience severe anxiety and panic.

Self-injurious behaviour:

Self-injury is most often associated with severely-disabled autistic people, but some people with HFA/AS also self-injure.This is a complex phenomenon which may occur for very different reasons in different people. People with autism may have reasons for self-injury (such as sensory problems or a need to establish body boundaries) which are not shared by non-autistic people who self-injure, but these resources may still be helpful.

secret shame - an excellent site providing support and resources for people who self-injure.

Specific sensory and information-processing problems:

Most people with autistic spectrum conditions have some sensory or information-processing problems. In fact, DSM-IV specifies for some of these conditions that a separate diagnosis should not be made if the problem occurs as part of a pervasive developmental disorder. However, sites which focus on a specific problem can still have useful advice.

The Dyspraxia Foundation - dyspraxia is a developmental co-ordination disorder which seems to have a lot in common with the clumsiness which affects many people with HFA/AS.
Sensory Defensiveness and Auditory Disorders, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and Hyperacusis - two pages written by the mother of a HFA son.
Visual and Auditory Processing Disorders.
Learning Disabilities Association of America. "Learning disabilities" refers to problems such as dyslexia which co-exist with normal intelligence. Sometimes confusion is caused as the phrase "learning difficulties" or "learning disabilities" is often used in the UK to refer to what is known in the US as "mental retardation".
LD Online: Learning Disabilities Resources.
The British Dyslexia Association.
American Hyperlexia Association - hyperlexia is a condition which overlaps with autism and AS, and is characterized by exceptionally early and fast reading.


A few researchers have suggested that people with HFA/AS may have a slightly higher-than-normal risk of developing schizophrenia, but other researchers disagree totally. What is certainly true is that people with HFA/AS are at risk of being mis-diagnosed with schizophrenia (a mis-diagnosis which can obviously have very serious consequences), as odd social behaviour can be confused with "negative symptoms" of schizophrenia. The Schizophrenia Home Page is a brilliant resource if you need information on schizophrenia (and also does a great job challenging stereotypes about mental illness).

Return to the University Students With Autism And Asperger's Syndrome main page.