Autism is a spectrum disorder i.e. an umbrella of conditions that impairs social, communication and neuro-behavioral development of individuals (Read: What is Autism?). What it means is that a person diagnosed with Autism will also display symptoms of other disorders that often co-exist with this condition.
Co-Existing Conditions with Autism
Thankfully, with Autism, we know what kind of company it likes to keep. It’s quite common that disorders resembling Autism do not always show up in singular mode. Often co-existing with Autism, are a couple of more complications under the ASD umbrella; for example, anxiety disorder and depression. What’s worse, one of these conditions can lead to another. This is what the medical world calls comorbidity.
Meeting the diagnostic criteria for Autism is only a part of the entire story. Those with autism, most of the times, experience a variety of co-morbid (or co-existing) disorders and conditions. That is, they also meet the diagnostic criteria for other disorders, which are important to be identified as separate conditions. Doing so aids in managing and treating these conditions seamlessly alongside ASD. In this post, we get you introduced to eight of them.
9 Co-Existing Conditions with Autism
1. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Previously known as ADD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD in children is characterized by trouble paying attention for longer spans and difficulties to sit still, there are also instances of impulsive behaviour which create troubles in school and a disorganized nature.
Must Read Top 10 ADHD Myths & Facts.
2. Sensory Processing Disorder
Kids with autism often exhibit sensory issues but technically, it is a separate condition from autism. Still, it is extremely common among those within the ASD spectrum, affecting as much as 75% of the autistic children.
Here are some articles related to Sensory Processing Disorder:
- What is Sensory Integration Disorder
- Sensory Integration Disorder Symptoms
- Sensory Activities for Autism
- Sensory Input In Everyday Activities
3. Anxiety Disorder
This is pretty much prevalent among the autistic, affecting over 40 percent of the autism population. It can be phobias (deep, irrational fears), generalized anxiety disorder (frequent anxiety about many different things), OCD (persistent and obsessive thoughts that a person mitigates through specific rituals), panic disorders (characterized by frequent panic attacks) and social anxiety (fear of confronting social situations).
This is pretty much prevalent among the autistic, affecting over 40 percent of the autism population. It can be phobias (deep, irrational fears), generalized anxiety disorder (frequent anxiety about many different things), OCD (persistent and obsessive thoughts that a person mitigates through specific rituals), panic disorders (characterized by frequent panic attacks) and social anxiety (fear of confronting social situations). Note: As parents, you should be extra careful to handle these anxiety meltdowns that your child may face from time to time. Inability to do so may result in long-term psychosis, thereby leading to severe complication in the Autism treatment plan.
MUST READ: Autism and Anxiety
4. Gastrointestinal Issues
This is a wide range of disorders that relate to the digestive system and digestion processes. From stomach aches to food allergies and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the list is virtually endless.
This is when the down in the dumps feeling persists over days, weeks, months and years and not because you had a bad day. The deep and prolonged sadness makes a person lose his interest in life. Teens and adults are its primary victims, not children.
RECOMMENDED READING: Is Autism a Psychological Disorder?
6. Tourette Syndrome
Tourette’s Syndrome or TS is what gives you the involuntary tics; vocal, physical or both. These are different from stimming behavior, which is essentially a self-stimulatory behaviour, characterized by repetitive physical movements and sounds by individuals with developmental disabilities. Tics are movements that are sudden and involuntary by nature and are seen on the face, as opposed to the extremities.
Epilepsy is a disorder that involves seizures in different forms. Convulsions are not the only signs, but also staring into the space relentlessly. The muscles may tighten during the phase and bouts of confusions are common. It is estimated that about one-third of all children diagnosed with Autism may also suffer from co-existing seizures or epileptic conditions. Refer to the Autism Awareness Guide for more details.
9. Sleep Disorders
Insomnia being the most common, primarily because the biological sleep-cycles go off completely. Often it is due to the reason that the body’s supply of melatonin (a hormone secreted by the pineal gland; controls sleep/wake functions) is not regulated any more the way it should be. In case of autistic individuals, anxiety surrounding bedtime rituals is common as much as reading social cues as detecting the time for bed.
READ MORE: The Connection Between Autism, ADHD & Sleep Disorders[/fusion_tagline_box]
9. Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Often overlooked as an adolescent or teenage problem, Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD is typically characterized the child’s propensity to defy authority and a general demeanor of hostility and spiteful feeling towards peers and parents. ODD is more predominent for children with high functioning or borderline Autism and PDD-NOS.