By Interface Consulting and Psychological Services
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which affects between one and two percent of the population according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder), is commonly known as Autism. ASD is associated with a variety of other conditions. In this article, we’ll be going over some of the most common conditions that may affect children, teens, or adults diagnosed with Autism.
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can present with similar symptoms to ASD. These include difficulties with social interactions, impulsivity, focusing on things that don’t interest them and settling down. Executive Functioning is one of the biggest challenges for children with both ASD and ADHD (Spectrum News, 2018). Executive Functioning is the term used to describe higher order cognitive skills, including decision-making, self-control, and short- term memory. Both ASD and ADHD also have genetic risk factors.
For young children with Autism, ADHD can seemingly complicate symptoms of Autism. Tantrums and increased difficulty in social situations are commonly reported. ADHD affects about 11% of those aged 4-17, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center). Autism, on the other hand, affects only 1.5% of the same age group. However, approximately half of children diagnosed with ASD also received a diagnosis of ADHD.
Another of the most common conditions affecting individual with Autism is a Seizure Disorder or Epilepsy. Anywhere from 11-39% of individuals with Autism are also diagnosed with Epilepsy, according to the NIMH. If left untreated, Epilepsy can be detrimental to overall health and quality of life. In extreme cases, it can even lead to premature death. Children with ASD who also have seizures are more likely to also be affected by sleep and behavioral concerns.
Sleep disorders, such as insomnia, also disproportionately impact individuals with ASD. Sleep disorders are one of the most studied conditions in children with Autism. Chronic sleep problems can affect almost every part of the sleep cycle, which can mean trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, and difficulty waking up in the morning. Sleep disorders can be heightened by other conditions commonly associated with ASD such as ADHD or gastrointestinal issues like constipation.
Like Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia affects how the brain processes information. Dyslexia is characterized by difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling. It can also cause difficulty when it comes to interpreting visuals like graphs or maps, in addition to issues with pattern recognition.
Developmental Coordination Disorder, also known as Dyspraxia, is a developmental disorder that affects someone’s ability to coordinate their actions to their thoughts. Minor motor skill issues are a common symptom of ASD in early childhood, but in extreme cases, this may mean a child will get diagnosed with Dyspraxia. One of the biggest effects of Dyspraxia, especially in children with Autism, is sensitivity to sensory stimuli. Since it is caused by a disconnect between a person’s ability to understand what to do and how they do it, it can also affect language, thought, and perception abilities. Dyspraxia can also have a genetic risk factor.
Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
Social phobias, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (OCD), separation anxiety, and extreme fears (phobias) are common in people diagnosed with ASD. One reason that anxiety or the aforementioned disorders can be more pronounced in those diagnosed with ASD is that they struggle with impulse control. In addition, shared genetic and biological risk factors have been found.
Digestive issues like chronic constipation (defined as lasting more than two weeks) can be caused by several things. These include a poor diet with too little fiber and side effects caused by medications. Other times it can be caused by neurological or metabolic issues. Treatments include medication and nutritional interventions, and in extreme cases, surgery.
Fragile X Syndrome
Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a genetic condition associated with ASD. In cases where ASD and FXS are diagnosed simultaneously, the ASD is thought to be caused by a mutation in the FXS gene. About 10% of children with Autism also have a genetic condition like FXS and testing is recommended upon diagnosis with ASD due to the possible link, according to the CDC.
If you or a loved one are looking for comprehensive Autism assessment and treatment in Tampa, contact Interface Consulting and Psychological Services today.
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