During this month, take some time to grow your understanding and acceptance for people with autism.
What is Autism?
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a brain-based neurologic disorder that causes deficits in communication and social interactions, accompanied by restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
Autism is a “spectrum” with varying affects from person to person and no two people with autism have the exact same symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children in the United States have autism, with the prevalence being 1 in 42 for boys and 1 in 189 for girls.
Bringing Awareness to Autism and Gastrointestinal Issues
Facts about Autism and Gastrointestinal Issues
Gastrointestinal issues are among the most common medical conditions associated with autism.
Children with autism are 3.5 times more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms compared to their normally developing peers.
Gastrointestinal issues in children with autism can be extremely challenging to evaluate because many children with autism are nonverbal or minimally verbal and cannot express pain or discomfort through speech.
Gastrointestinal disorders can present atypically as non-gastrointestinal manifestations that include behavioral changes and regression.
Not so obvious signs and symptoms that could indicate a gastrointestinal disorder include:
- Sleep disturbance
- Sudden onset of self-injurious behavior, tantrums, or aggression
- Pressing or holding the belly
- Pushing the belly against objects such as furniture
- Diarrhea lasting over 2 weeks
- Change in stooling pattern
- Excessive bloating and gas
- Frequent throat clearing
- Chewing on clothes
- Constant eating, drinking, or swallowing
- Unusual posturing
- Unexplained increase in repetitive behaviors
Speak to your child’s physician if you are concerned that your child with autism is exhibiting any of these signs and symptoms. Children with autism who have gastrointestinal symptoms warrant a thorough gastrointestinal evaluation. Remember that the communication impairments characteristic of children with autism may lead to unusual presentations of gastrointestinal disorders.