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Personality Characteristics of Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder With and Without Substance Use Disorders

Sizoo, Bram MD, LLM*†; van den Brink, Wim MD, PhD‡§; van Eenige, Marielle Gorissen PhD; van der Gaag, Rutger Jan MD, PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2009 - Volume 197 - Issue 6 - p 450-454
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181a61dd0
Original Article

We examined temperament and character profiles of 128 adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Participants completed the abbreviated Temperament and Character Inventory. The ASD and ADHD groups showed distinct temperament profiles (ADHD: high novelty seeking, ASD: low reward dependence, high harm avoidance) and low character scores in both groups. We then stratified ASD and ADHD into current substance use disorder (SUD+), former (SUDˆ), or no history of Substance Use Disorder (SUD−). Novelty seeking and reward dependence were only significantly lower for ASD/SUD−, but normal for ASD/SUDˆ and ASD/SUD+ subgroups. Persistence scores were highest in both SUDˆ subgroups. We concluded that temperament profiles of ASD and ADHD patients differ significantly, and are similar to profiles reported in earlier studies, but appear to depend on the SUD status. Surprisingly, normal social orientation is found in ASD patients with former or current SUD. High persistence scores characterize patients who overcome SUD.

*Dimence Institute of Mental Health, Deventer, Netherlands; †Karakter Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Medical Center, St.Radboud, Nijmegen, Netherlands; ‡Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands; §Amsterdam Institute of Addiction Research, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and ∥Department of Psycholgy, American University of Paris, Paris, France.

Send reprint requests to Bram Sizoo, MD, Department of Developmental Disorders, Dimence Institute of Mental Health, PO Box 5003, 7400 GC Deventer, The Netherlands. E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.