What are the common co-occurring conditions in children with autism, and how can I identify and address them?
Children with autism often have co-occurring conditions or comorbidities, which means they have two or more conditions at the same time. Here are some of the most common co-occurring conditions in children with autism, along with some tips on how to identify and address them:
ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common co-occurring condition in children with autism. Symptoms of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. To identify ADHD, look for symptoms like difficulty paying attention, trouble following directions, and being easily distracted. Treatment for ADHD typically includes medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both.
Anxiety: Anxiety is another common co-occurring condition in children with autism. Symptoms of anxiety can include excessive worry, fear, and avoidance behaviors. To identify anxiety, look for signs like excessive worrying, difficulty sleeping, and changes in appetite. Treatment for anxiety may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Depression: Depression is a co-occurring condition that can affect children with autism. Symptoms of depression may include persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, and changes in sleep and appetite. To identify depression, look for changes in mood or behavior that persist for an extended period. Treatment for depression may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Sensory Processing Disorder: Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a condition where the brain has difficulty processing sensory information. Children with autism are more likely to experience sensory processing difficulties. Symptoms of SPD may include oversensitivity to certain sounds, textures, or smells, or difficulty processing sensory information. Treatment for SPD may include occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, or other interventions.
Gastrointestinal (GI) issues: Children with autism are more likely to have gastrointestinal issues like constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. To identify GI issues, look for signs like changes in bowel movements, abdominal pain, and discomfort after eating. Treatment for GI issues may include dietary changes, medication, or other interventions.
If you suspect your child may have a co-occurring condition, it's important to talk to your child's healthcare provider. They can help identify any potential issues and develop a plan for addressing them. Treatment for co-occurring conditions in children with autism may include medication, therapy, or other interventions, depending on the specific condition and individual needs.