Tourette Syndrome as an indicator of Psychiatric Comorbidity in Children with PDD

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
State University of New York
Investigators Name
Gadow, Kenneth, PhD

For at least two decades, investigators have commented on a possible relation between Tourette Syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) such as Autism and Asperger’s syndrome. It has been suggested that the co-occurrence of these disorders may constitute a unique clinical entity sharing causal mechanisms. However, it is also possible that a tic disorder in individuals with PDD is not a “true” tic disorder; it just looks similar (i.e., phenocopy). Unfortunately, very few studies have examined the prevalence of Tourette Syndrome in PDD samples. Furthermore, although there is a voluminous literature supporting a relation between tic disorders and co-occurring psychiatric symptoms, this topic has received scant attention in children with PDD. This is due, in part, to the debate over the existence of psychiatric disorders in children with PDD. However, the findings of our recent research suggest that attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) warrants recognition as a distinct clinical syndrome in children with PDD, similar to that found in youngsters who do not have PDD and are evaluated in child psychiatry clinics. In addition, our preliminary studies of tic disorder in children with PDD indicate that co-occurring ADHD and tics are associated with more severe emotional and behavioral problems. This is true as well for children who do not have PDD. The relation between ADHD, tic disorder, and PDD will be investigated in a new, longitudinal study of rigorously diagnosed six 12 year-old-children with PDD. Special attention will be given to co-occurring stereotypies and obsessive-compulsive behaviors, which are often associated with PDD and have proved difficult to differentiate from motor and vocal tics. To better understand the relations between these disorders, we will also study the symptoms of other psychiatric syndromes as well as known risk factors for these disorders. Using state-of-the-art assessment methodology, we hope to develop a better understanding of the relation of ADHD and tic symptoms in children with PDD. It is our belief that this research may help explain the causes of these disorders, which may ultimately lead to better treatment options for children with these disorders. Kenneth Gadow, Ph.D., Carla DeVincent, Ph.D., Michael Greenberg, CSW, ACSW State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY Award: $36,618 Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2004-2005