Autism and Bipolar Disorder - Connection?
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Q:  Autism and Bipolar Disorder - Connection?

What do you know of the connection between Autism and Bipolar Disorder?  I was hoping that you might be able to give some insight into this particular area.

Bipolar disorder runs in my family - my Grandfather, my mother, two cousins and myself were/are bipolar.  One of my children is now being assessed for bipolar symptoms.

The reason I am asking this question is because I was doing some reading on the effects of a bipolar cycle of depression in the very early years. Alot of the effects are very similar to Autistic symptoms.  

This is of particular interest to me as we have a daughter diagnosed with Autism.  Around age five she experienced a sudden spurt forward and retains very few overt Autistic symptoms at this point.  A similar type of pattern happened to me as a child.

Also in certain parts of my son's cycles he exhibits Autistic Shadow Symptoms which disappear completely at other times.  We were also startled to discover one of our other children, who had previously been extremely social suddenly demonstrate symptoms of Asperger's syndrome.  This lasted several months and disappeared with hardly a trace.  Her teacher was as mystified as we were.

So thats why I was wondering about the connection between Autism and bipolar and whether I should keep my eye open for bipolar symptoms with my Autistic child and her sister.


Dear Rebecca -- 
I've heard of people making a connection between the two conditions, but only in vague terms.  I could be behind on this one.  A quick literature search ("bipolar autism") yielded nothing in the National Library of Medicine.  Here's one very specific genetic study relating the two.  You're probably on to something the rest of us general clinicians haven't recognized yet (at least this general clinician).  

Dr. Phelps

Published July, 2001


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