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Scand J Psychol. 2018 Aug;59(4):428-432. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12451. Epub 2018 May 8.

Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome do not score higher on the autism-spectrum quotient than healthy controls: Comparison with autism spectrum disorder.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd University Hospital, Karolinska Institutet; and ME/CFS-rehabilitation, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Danderyd University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
ME/CFS-unit, Pain and Rehabilitation Center, Region Östergotland, Linköping, Sweden.
Department of Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.


Clinically, there is an overlap of several symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including fatigue; brain "fog"; cognitive impairments; increased sensitivity to sound, light, and odour; increased pain and tenderness; and impaired emotional contact. Adults with CFS (n = 59) or ASD (n = 50) and healthy controls (HC; n = 53) were assessed with the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) in a cross-sectional study. Non-parametric analysis was used to compare AQ scores among the groups. Univariate analysis of variance (ANCOVA) was used to identify if age, sex, or diagnostic group influenced the differences in scores. Patients with ASD scored significantly higher on the AQ than the CFS group and the HC group. No differences in AQ scores were found between the CFS and HC groups. AQ results were influenced by the diagnostic group but not by age or sex, according to ANCOVA. Despite clinical observations of symptom overlap between ASD and CFS, adult patients with CFS report few autistic traits in the self-report instrument, the AQ. The choice of instrument to assess autistic traits may influence the results.


Autism-Spectrum Quotient; autism spectrum disorder; chronic fatigue syndrome

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