CrazyteamBy Kim Stagliano

Dr. Nancy Minshew says that in the "old days" autistic people were called schizophrenic, because the two conditions are so much alike.  Today they are called autistic. Et voila! There's your epidemic!

Does your child, or do you (if you are an adult with autism) appear schizophrenic*? Has any doctor or therapist ever uttered the words schizophrenia and autism in the same sentence to you?

This declaration of Dr. Minshew's is repulsive and offensive to all people with autism. All people with autism, regardless of what you think of cause or treatment.

Here is the definition of childhood schizophrenia from

A child's stage of development must be taken into account when considering a diagnosis of mental illness. Behaviors that are normal at one age, may not be at another. Rarely, a normal young child may report strange experiences—such as hearing voices—that would be considered abnormal at a later age. Clinicians look for a more persistent pattern of such behaviors. Parents may have reason for concern if a child of 7 years or older often hears voices saying derogatory things about him or her, or voices conversing with one another, talks to himself or herself, stares at scary things—snakes, spiders, shadows—that aren't really there, and shows no interest in friendships. Such behaviors could be signs of schizophrenia, a chronic and disabling form of mental illness.

Fortunately, schizophrenia is rare in children, affecting only about 1 in 40,000, compared to 1 in 100 in adults. The average age of onset is 18 in men and 25 in women. Ranking among the top 10 causes of disability in developed countries worldwide, schizophrenia, at any age, exacts a heavy toll on patients and their families. Children with schizophrenia experience difficulty in managing everyday life. They share with their adult counterparts hallucinations, delusions, social withdrawal, flattened emotions, increased risk of suicide and loss of social and personal care skills. They may also share some symptoms with—and be mistaken for—children who suffer from autism or other pervasive developmental disabilities, which affect about 1 in 500 children. Although they tend to be harder to treat and have a worse prognosis than adult-onset schizophrenia patients, researchers are finding that many children with schizophrenia can be helped by the new generation of anti-psychotic medications.

Do I have this right? (I'm no Mark Blaxill when it comes to analyzing data.)  Dr. Minshew says that today's skyrocketing counts of children with autism (now at 1 in 150) can in part, be attributed to the fact that what is today being called autism, in the past may have been called schizophrenia.  But if schizophrenia rates are 1 in 40,000 for children, even if half of the cases were now called autism, you wouldn't be anywhere near today's autism rate.  So what were the rest of the kids that now account for the numbers: Diabetic? Apoplectic?  (No, that would be me.) And if children with schizophrenia are sometimes misdiagnosed with autism or PDD's, does that mean we now have thousands of kids with schizophrenia falsely diagnosed as autistic? A "wrong diagnosis" doesn't bode well for the whole "better diagnosis" theory then does it?

I have never, in my combined 31 years' of autism experience with my daughters, had a doctor even broach the subject of schizophrenia and we've seen some of the "best" (insert retching sound here.)

From Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew": "There's small choice in rotten apples."  I guess old William knew about the likes of Dr. Minshew and company too. Here are her pathetic words:

And when people say they don't remember seeing so many autistic children when they were growing up, or ask where all the adults with autism are, there are two possible explanations, Dr. Minshew said.

One is that many autistic children in the past were never sent to school. In what she called the "Forrest Gump era, you didn't even go to school, or you went to a totally separate school."

The other phenomenon was that some autistic children were labeled as schizophrenic, and many may have ended up in state hospitals or other institutions, she said.

There is even a kind of logic to that, Dr. Minshew said, because some of the hallmarks of schizophrenia -- behaving oddly, a lack of facial expressions, poor eye contact, speaking in a monotone and using fewer gestures than normal -- are "essentially the same" in both autism and schizophrenia.

Here's the full article if you're crazy enough to read it.

* If you have a loved one with schizophrenia, I am in no way making light of their condition, nor am I implying that having schizophrenia is "worse" than having autism, or vice versa. My heart goes out to you.  Kim

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism.



Kim, You write very, very poorly. You come across as a big, nasty mouth with nothing of value to add. Maybe you should consider spending your energy and time in constructive ways. I am sorry that I even read this garbage. It's worse than the cheap tabloids.

Marion Hubbard

So-called 'Schizophrenia' is Intense Transpersonal or Spiritual Experience, Transformation Process, Spiritual Awakening or 'Spiritual Emergency'(See writings of Christina and Stanislav Grof)  
Much needless suffering results from ignorance of the nature of the human personality or 'human nature'. Insights into the workings of human nature are provided by the healthy process of healing in which the individual experiences the psychic overload of uncontrollable spiritual growth and crisis i.e. spiritual emergency or so-called 'schizophrenia'.

HUMAN NATURE AS A FUNCTION OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH OR 'SPIRITUAL EMERGENCE' Western scientific research combined with Eastern psychologies such as Buddhism provides new concepts which shed light on the nature of the multidimensional human psyche and the human personality i.e ‘human nature’. Human nature is a social nature and the human organism is a social organism with instincts for sociability. The development of human socialisation can be characterised in terms of biologically based motives or 'human needs' which include both 'lower' psychological needs for self-esteem - the 'ego needs' - and 'higher' psychological needs for spiritual development - the spiritual needs or 'metaneeds'. Metaneeds are subconscious needs which must be fulfilled in a process of normal spiritual development or 'moral development'. Moral development is a function of personal evolution from the limited sense of self or 'ego' and its egocentric perspective to the expanded sense of self or 'Self' and its transpersonal perspective of ego-transcendance... a function of moral consciousness or 'rational conscience'. Rational conscience is a function of consciousness of social values of sociability... moral justice, 'knowledge' as understanding, ‘peace’as social responsibility, 'lovingkindness' as wisdom of compassion and so on i.e. 'human values'. Human values are the universal moral values required for survival of the species as a social species. Awareness of human values results in heightened intuition of social intelligence which is necessary for effective adaptation to the complexities of changing social conditions i.e. 'adaptability'. Human adaptability depends on preservation of the integrated functioning of the personality as a whole... the basis for personal power or 'self-empowerment'. Self-empowerment is a function of the integrity of moral consciousness or 'conscience' (moral values of humanness). Spiritual growth involves the development of conscience and involves the attainment of knowledge of one's true nature or 'higher self' 'self-knowledge' as the source of personal power required for adaptability... i.e. transformation or 'enlightenment' of 'spiritual emergence'. Spiritual emergence is a gradual, dynamic, fluid  naturally ordered and integrated on-going process of personal development into greater maturity and spiritual awareness... which results in the expanded sense of consciousness... understanding of the ultimate unity of all things... human divinity... sense of compassion... increased creativity. It takes place over a period of years and depends on conditions of freedom in education. Each person is at a different stage of spiritual emergence depending on the level of their 'moral development'.
TRANSFORMATION CRISIS OR 'SPIRITUAL EMERGENCY' If in highly sensitive individuals the processs of spiritual emergence is blocked for any reason they might be warned that their growth is in grave danger and that they rapidly need to make essential adjustments in order to adapt effectively. The transformation process of spiritual emergence can be so dramatic that it becomes uncontrollable and reaches a point of 'psychospiritual crisis' or 'spiritual emergency'... also known as transpersonal experience, transpersonal crisis, psycho-spiritual transformation, spiritual journey, hero's journey, dark night of the soul, spiritual opening, psychic opening, psychic awakening, spiritual awakening, enlightenment, kundalini awakening, kundalini process, kundalini crisis, shamanic initiation, shamanic crisis, psychotic-visionary episode, ego death, ego loss, alchemical process, positive disintegration, post traumatic stress disorder with psychotic features, night sea journey, psychosis, shamanism, mysticism, gnosis, inner apocalypse, and so on. Spiritual emergency is a process of healing and renewal and involves a positive transformation of the self. The process is characterised by spontaneous alternative consciousness states or ‘realities' in which the person experiences unbearably distressing psychic overload involving chaotic and overwhelming sensory experiences. During the process they learn to grow beyond fear based ego-consciousness, beyond cultural conditioning and the expectations of others. They learn to grow to a new level of awareness... to higher consciousness states which are characterised by an inner sense of emotional liberation allowing for the discovery of ideas and behaviours of increased social adaptability. This so-called 'individuation'... 'self-realisation'... 'self-actualisation'... 'spiritual renewal' or 'rebirth'... represents the affirmation of a life of total well-being or 'high level wellness'.
Spiritual emergency is a part of the human condition and a concern of so-called 'depth psychology' also known as 'spiritual psychology' or 'transpersonal psychology'. Transpersonal psychology is concerned with the 'beyond ego' or 'transpersonal' dimension of the human psyche or 'human nature'. The transpersonal dimension is the source of motivation for human productiveness and creativity or 'work'.


the whole idea of making this comparison completely shows the desperate lengths biased experts are going to protect the collective denial of an obvious epidemic. all that aside, it is interesting that some practitioners & researchers recognize that schizophrenia can also be triggered by a viral infection. hopefully once the mainstream comes to terms with the autism epidemic and consequently the environmental culprits, this information can be applied to other relevant neurological conditions.

Jenny Webster

Still... those who claim that autistic didn't go to school "back in the day", or were Dx'd with something else... I still say, WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

With normal life spans, the benefit of hindsight and all the NEW great diagnosticians "discovering" all these kids that would have been "missed" before, Nancy Shrew, MD, should be able to show us these people... Prove me wrong!! Show me the adults living in group homes and the like at a rate of 1 in 150...

I will be holding my bre aaa t hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......... *thump*


Erkolos, off topic here, but have you read this book:

"Dear Gabriel" by Halfdan Freihow, a Norwegian father who wrote about his son with autism/Asperger's. It's a breathtaking look at love, frustration, worry and more love from the perpective of a Dad and a Scandinavian Dad, whose prose when translated retains the "northern style." I previewed it and blogged it for his publisher.

I recognize your name from the Aspies For Freedom list that I popped into when the AS legal letter situation was ongoing. I hope the young person involved is safe and sound.


Kim Stagliano


It isn't that the conditions are similar, but autistics were indeed misdiagnosed as schizophrene earlier. Many previously thought to be schizophrene have been diagnosed with autism in the late years.

Sandy Gottstein

It all makes me think of The Church Lady on SNL. Schizophrenia suddenly the hidden horde? How conVENient.


Thanks, Deborah! You're right! I had wretched on the brain while retching and kvetching. Not much of a stretch, though, you must admit!



Just a spelling note:

Not wretching. Retching.

Unless you were making a pun?

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