Understanding Autism and the Connection With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Studies show that 17% of people who have Autism also have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. Though it is not uncommon, sometimes it is hard for parents and doctors alike to tell the difference between the two.

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we spoke with Heidi Light, a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst from Durand Academy in Woodbury, NJ, and Sandra Stewart, whose 18-year old son is diagnosed with Autism, OCD and generalized anxiety disorder.

While the symptoms of Autism and OCD are similar, the treatment and level of mindfulness behind both are very different.

"Generally autism spectrum disorder is characterized by some speech and language deficits," Light said. "Some children might not speak at all, and some children might use one word."

"It's also characterized by deficits in social engagement with others," Light said. "People might not be able to take the perspective of others and read nonverbal cues."

"My son Peter was 5 when he was diagnosed," Stewart said. "As he got older, more of the OCD, compulsive behaviors, anxiety and stress started to brew around 7 or 8."

"It was frightening for me when Peter was first diagnosed," Stewart said. "The best advice I can give is to ask for help, get the support you need, reach out to family, friends and local support groups. The resources are out there."

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.