This resource center includes information and resources about when OCD and autism happen together, treatment options, information for family members, and stories from autistic individuals living with OCD.
Please explore the resources and information available, and know that this is a growing and developing Resource Center. Make sure to check back as more resources about OCD and autism become available.
And remember, your voice is vital! If you are an autistic individual with OCD, you can contribute to the conversation by sharing your personal journey or a message of hope with the IOCDF community.
NOTE: While the term “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD) is utilized in the most widely used professional diagnostic manual, the DSM-5, we consider the differences associated with autism as an aspect of the individual’s identity rather than inherently being a disorder. Accordingly, identity-first language such as “autistic” is used throughout this writing, as preferred by many with lived experience.
Summary, References, and Resources
Certainly, this is a time of progress, as our understanding of how OCD and autism interact continues to grow. OCD in autistic individuals is challenging and there are no easy answers, but it is now regarded as both understandable and treatable with the proper modifications. Guiding research in this area is continuing to emerge, but more is clearly needed. The same may be said of clinicians: there seems to be more interest in this crucial subject, but it needs to be reflected in increased educational and training opportunities. With such developments, autistic persons as well as family members will be more likely to receive an accurate diagnosis of OCD in a timely way and access properly modified evidence-supported OCD treatments.
Our knowledge of how to help autistic people with OCD can only increase over time. We can already see this area of treatment receiving increased concern and interest on the part of mental health professionals. Another powerful impetus for meaningful change in the treatment of OCD in autistic individuals has been the increasing input from the voices of autistic individuals. Indeed, the posting of this article, itself, is proof of this growing attention, as such resources did not even exist until recently. There will certainly be more articles and information about treatment and resources in the future. The next steps will involve encouraging the research community to devote even more time and resources to growing our knowledge of how to best help members of the autism community and their families. These efforts will continue as long as there are autistic people out there who contend with OCD, in addition to their other challenges. As they say, "Every journey starts with the first step."
This material was informed by the references, books, and resources pertaining to OCD and autism that are listed below.
Special thanks to the leadership of the IOCDF's OCD and Autism Special Interest Group (SIG) for their contributions to the OCD & Autism Resource Center - Jonathan Hoffman, PhD; Robert Hudak, MD; Josh Nadeau, PhD; Fred Penzel, PhD; and Rebecca Sachs, PhD.