Tourette Syndrome and Asperger Syndrome:
Overlapping symptoms and treatment
Trina Epstein and Jennifer Saltzman-Benaiah
Tourette Syndrome (TS) has been classified as part of a larger group of developmental neuropsychiatric disorders, a term reflecting the growing recognition of the neurobiological underpinnings of behaviours previously viewed as psychogenic. It is therefore not surprising that much of the current research on TS has focussed on neurological mechanisms of tics and the other prominent symptoms that are associated with this condition. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) such as Asperger Syndrome (AS) have also been viewed as developmental neuropsychiatric disorders. Moreover, there is speculation about the relationship and overlap between ASDs and tic disorders.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a discussion of TS that alerts readers to important and potentially challenging issues that can arise when considering the overlap of TS and AS symptomatology. The first section will provide a brief overview of the commonly associated features of TS, including some similarities and differences from the presentation of AS. Some of the suspected neuropathological mechanisms of TS are then briefly reviewed; this may help in understanding the intriguing relationship between many seemingly unrelated symptoms. Focusing on one of the similarities in symptom presentation (i.e. inflexibility), the second section of this chapter will provide an example of an effective behavioural management approach for TS and AS. The final section highlights key issues through a case illustration.