What is the difference between Schizoid Personality Disorder and Autism?

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This blog will cover topics such as schizoid personality disorder, autism spectrum disorder, the difference between schizoid personality disorder and autism, symptoms of SPD and ASD, research studies, treatments, and frequently asked questions.

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What is the difference between Schizoid Personality Disorder and Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder is a brain development disorder that affects how a person perceives and interacts with others, resulting in social interaction and communication issues.

People with autism also engage in repeated patterns of behavior. In autism spectrum disorder, the term “spectrum” is like an umbrella term that covers a vast range of symptoms and severity.

However, if you have schizoid personality disorder then people may think of you as a loner or dismissive of others. You may also appear emotionless to some people because of your inability to express yourself. You may also have trouble or lack the will to form close connections with people.

Let us understand the difference between schizoid personality disorder and autism in detail in further sections. 

Difference between Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

New practitioners, or those who haven’t done their diagnostic homework, may make a knee-jerk diagnosis based on “what sounds familiar” or what they’re comfortable with because of familiarity, which is referred to as diagnosis bias.

The truth is that “social awkwardness” can be caused by a variety of psychological conditions (including various personality disorders, social anxiety, and trauma).

Because ASD is such a common diagnosis, it frequently becomes the “go-to” diagnostic for this item, resulting in an unexpected increase of ASD diagnoses. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in 2020 that cases were 1 in 150 in 2000 and 1 in 54 in 2016. Given the high volume of cases and the “fad diagnosis” issue in ASD (Frances, 2013), it’s safe to assume that at least part of them are false positives.

For example, a child may be diagnosed with ASD after performing poorly on a standardized test of social competence and relationship. The evaluator may ignore the fact that the child has no other signs or a history of ASD, as well as the fact that they have severe ADHD. 

People with ADHD may appear “socially awkward” because they regularly interrupt others, “space out” while interacting, and miss social cues as a result of their inattention.

Importance of a proper diagnosis

While determining the exact number of false positives would be challenging, a public awareness campaign emphasizing the need for differentiation is necessary to decrease false positives caused by increased awareness.

Some people might wonder why diagnosis matters when in the end we just have to treat “social awkwardness”. As discussed in Avoidant Personality or Social Phobia, many diseases overlap symptoms, but that doesn’t mean they’re to be treated the same way.

Proper diagnosis helps us to grasp the nature of symptoms, their purpose, and what they’re anchored in, which leads to proper therapy. If the aforementioned child’s ADHD symptoms made socializing difficult, for example, the focus of therapy would be on improving social ability despite restlessness and inattention. 

In a word, people with ADHD are aware of how to socialize, but they must learn how to pay attention in order to have better social interactions.

Socialization, on the other hand, must be taught in ASD, including exposing them to the need of socializing and providing extensive support in building social skills.

Symptoms of SPD and ASD

Symptoms of schizoid personality disorder

 

  • Prefer to be alone and prefer to accomplish things alone.
  • Close connections aren’t something they seek or enjoy.
  • Feel a lack of desire for sexual connections, if any at all.
  • Feel as if they won’t be able to enjoy themselves
  • Have difficulties expressing feelings and reacting to circumstances appropriately
  • Others may perceive them as humorless, uninterested, or emotionally frigid.
  • It’s possible that they may lack motivation and ambitions.
  • Don’t react to compliments or criticism from others.

Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder

  • He or she appears to prefer playing alone, retreating into his or her own world, to snuggling and holding.
  • Portrays negligible facial expression and weak eye contact.
  • Speak in a slow tone or do not talk at all. People may also lose the ability to pronounce previously learned words and sentences
  • Have trouble in starting or maintaining a discussion, or just asking for help or categorizing objects.
  • Speaks in an unusual tone or rhythm, and may utilize a singsong or robotic voice.
  • Repeats words or phrases word for word, but has no idea how to use them.
  • Doesn’t seem to understand basic questions or directions.
  • Often comes across as emotionless because such people have trouble in showing their emotions or feelings.
  • Can get passive, confrontational, or disruptive in social situations
  • Cannot easily comprehend nonverbal clues such as other people’s facial expressions, body postures, or voice tone.

The major difference between ASD and SPD

It’s easy to understand how the similarities in the above-mentioned symptoms could lead to a knee-jerk diagnosis of ASD based on several strikingly similar characteristics. 

Those with SPD, on the other hand, do not exhibit the following characteristics, at least some of which must be present in order to diagnose an ASD.

  • Stereotypical, repetitive behaviors like body rocking, tic-like gestures, or even self-injurious actions like head bashing.
  • repeated self-soothing behaviors, such as hugging oneself or caressing things with certain tactile properties.
  • Concrete mental processes (for example, inquiring “what’s up?” prompts a glance up at the sky).
  • Interests that are highly fixated/persistent, sometimes with strange items, such as fragments and sections of objects.
  • Sensory-integration issues, such as avoiding specific meals or clothing due to texture, or having strong negative reactions to certain sounds or brightness levels.
  • Fixation on ritualized/routined patterns. Getting out of the norm can often lead to a “meltdown.”
  •  Delays in development or deterioration of previously acquired social and communication abilities.

What does the research say about ASD and SPD?

Higher functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizoid personality disorder (schizoid PD) have similar clinical symptomatology while being largely thought to be separate diseases.

Michal L. Cook et al. investigated the link between the two disorders by collecting extensive validated measures of autistic trait burden (SRS-2) and schizoid PD affectation (DIGS) from clinically ascertained verbal males with and without autism ages 12-25 (n=72) via parent, teacher, and self-report form clinically ascertained verbal males with and without autism ages 12-25 (n=72).

Despite the fact that only a small percentage of ASD adolescents met full diagnostic criteria for schizoid PD, ASD participants endorsed a continuous distribution of schizoid PD traits that reflected a significant pathological shift when compared to the control group, with one-half of ASD males experiencing three or more DSM-IV schizoid PD criterion items. “often” or “almost always.”

The findings point to a considerable augmentation of schizoid PD trait load in ASD adolescents. For schizoid PD patients with premorbid histories of ASD, ASD-specific therapies should be evaluated.

Treatment of SPD

Talk therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves (psychotherapy). Psychotherapy can be quite beneficial. If you want to improve your relationships, a modified type of cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you change problematic thoughts and behaviors.

A therapist understands how important it is for you to have your own space and how difficult it is for you to open up about your personal life. They can listen and guide you without being overbearing.

Medications. Although no specific treatment exists to treat schizoid personality disorder, certain medications can help with anxiety and depression.

Treatment of ASD

Behavior and communication therapies-Many programs address the social, verbal, and behavioral issues that are common in people with autism. Some programs emphasize the reduction of problem behaviors and the acquisition of new abilities.

Other programs educate children on how to behave in social situations or how to communicate more effectively with others. Through a reward-based motivation system, applied behavior analysis (ABA) can help youngsters learn new abilities and generalize them to a variety of settings.

Medications

Although there isn’t anyone particular drug that can treat autism spectrum disorder, some drugs can help to regulate symptoms. For example, antipsychotic drugs may be prescribed to a child who is hyperactive. Similarly, antidepressants may be given to manage anxiety. These drugs help to treat behavioral problems.

Conclusion

It is poor practice to lean towards making a diagnosis of ASD or SPD without a full examination, regardless of link, because there are therapeutic consequences.

 For example, SPD treatment necessitates the development of social skills, the study of emotional language, the ability to express oneself, and the ability to enrich one’s life by engaging in meaningful activities and experiencing joy.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): What is the difference between Schizoid Personality Disorder and Autism? 

Can schizotypal personality be mistaken for autism?

Yes, as Both schizotypal personality disorder and autism spectrum disorders have characteristics such as inappropriate or constrained affect, a limited ability for relationships, a lack of close friends, and a diminished capacity for social activity.

Is schizoid on the spectrum?

While schizoid personality disorder is classified as part of the schizophrenia spectrum and shares similar symptoms with schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder, there are significant differences between the two disorders. Paranoia and hallucinations are uncommon in people with SPD.

What is covert schizoid?

Schizoid personalities can be both covert and overt. On the surface, those with covert symptoms may not appear to have a personality disorder. They will appear gregarious, have secure careers, and have a large number of acquaintances. They do not, however, have any strong emotional relationships and will keep their feelings to themselves.

What are the 5 different types of autism?

There are five major types of autism which include Asperger’s syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Kanner’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified.

What causes autism?

There is no single cause of autism. Autism is thought to be caused by a combination of hereditary and nongenetic, or environmental, factors. These factors appear to enhance the likelihood of a youngster developing autism.

Name any 2 risk factors related to autism spectrum disorder?

The sex of your child-  Boys are four times as likely than girls to have autism spectrum condition.

History of the family-  Families with one child diagnosed with autism are more likely to have another child diagnosed with the illness. 

It’s also fairly uncommon for parents or relatives of a kid with an autism spectrum disorder to have minor difficulties with social or communication skills or to engage in some of the disorder’s behaviors.

References

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/and-running/202104/autism-or-schizoid-personality-disorder#:~:text=Schizoid%20Personality%20Disorder%20is%20based,symptoms%2C%20they%20require%20different%20interventions.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982569/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizoid-personality-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354419
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/autism-spectrum-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352928

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