Objectives: We reviewed published clinical reports that evaluated treatment effects of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) with children, adolescents, and adults who had autism spectrum disorder (ASD), catatonia, and self-injury. Methods: Published reports were identified from an internet search and summarized according to seven review criteria: (a) participant description, (b) clinical presentation, (c) previous treatments, (d) course of ECT, (e) treatment outcome, (f) side effects, and (g) evaluation methodology. Results: ECT was associated with clinical improvement in all participants. Most notable benefits included decreased self-injury, acquisition or recovery of functional life skills, elimination of catatonic symptoms, and return to baseline functioning. Maintenance ECT was typically required to sustain improved clinical status in the months and years following acute ECT. Conclusions: There appears to be sufficient evidence that supports therapeutic benefits from ECT in persons with ASD, catatonia, and self-injury. However, measurement methods and evaluation design vary greatly among reports, there may be a publication bias towards cases with positive findings, and more rigorous clinical research is necessary particularly concerning optimization of maintenance ECT to maximize benefit and monitor for any adverse response.
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Electroconvulsive therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychology (miscellaneous)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)