What predisposition to disorders do individuals with ASD have?:
Adults with ASD may face an increased risk for immune disorders (e.g., allergies or asthma); metabolic disorders (e.g., diabetes); heart disease; and motor disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy) (Croen et al., 2015). Here is more information:
- Immunology: Presence of an autoimmune disorder in early childhood may increase the risk of development ASD in later life, as well as strongly correlated with the severity of communication challenges
- Asthma: 1.6 times more likely
- Frequent and/or severe headaches: 1.8 times more likely
- Chronic sleep problems: Over 50% of individuals with ASD have one or more sleep issues
- Chronic gastrointestinal disorders: 8 times more likely, including chronic constipation or diarrhea. Additionally, individuals with ASD have higher food selectivity
- Epilepsy: Approximately one-third of people with ASD have a seizure disorder.
- Incontinence: Children with ASD may have nocturnal enuresis and daytime urinary incontinence more frequently than their peers.
- Obesity: People with ASD are 1.4 times more likely to be obese and about 3 times more likely to have constipation. These problems could be related to picky eating and/or a common side effect of drugs often prescribed to individuals with ASD.
“Inclusion and feeling part of society really does impact on health status. It’s very important to include adults with autism in all sections of society.”
~ Lisa Croen
What barriers to healthcare can individuals with ASD face?
Many young adults with ASD do not receive any healthcare for years after they stop seeing a pediatrician. Indeed, primary health care providers often admit to being unprepared to work with individuals with ASD.
Within a survey of nearly 1,000 primary care physicians and other healthcare professionals, a majority of respondents reported having never received the training needed to care for adults with ASD. Healthcare professionals also greatly underestimate the number of adults with ASD in their practices. For example, one doctor commented that it does not concern him how to treat people with autism as he is not a pediatrician.
- ASPIRE Healthcare Toolkit: (Links to an external site.) online toolkit designed to improve relationship between adults with ASD and their primary care providers
- Adolescent Health Transition Project: (Links to an external site.) A Resource for Teens and Young Adults With Special Healthcare Needs, Chronic Illness, Physical or Developmental Disabilities
- Caring for Emerging Adults with Autism: A Primary Care and Medical Transition Perspective: