It is not uncommon for children with autism to have other health problems. In fact, there are many medical and psychological conditions associated with autism. Seizures, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder), constipation, diarrhea, food and environmental allergies, fine and gross motor coordination problems, feeding difficulties and sleep disturbances are among some of the common medical issues seen in children with autism. In addition, there are also other psychological problems that are often seen in children with autism, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and anxiety.
Appropriate management of these associated conditions is essential to maximize the benefit of other autism therapies like ABA, speech and occupational therapy, and educational programming. If children are not feeling well, not sleeping or eating well, inattentive, hyperactive, anxious, or having seizures, worsening of behavior and limited progress in therapy is often the result.
Regular check-ups with a primary care provider are essential to make sure children with autism are being evaluated for associated medical and psychological problems. Referrals should be made to pediatric neurologists for any concern of seizures. Pediatric gastroenterologists can address problems with reflux, constipation, diarrhea, and food allergies or intolerances. Psychologists can further evaluate symptoms of anxiety, ADHD and OCD. Once children have been further evaluated by specialists, recommendations for additional treatment are made and often include behavioral strategies, changes in diet, and medication therapy, especially for issues such as seizures, GERD, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, and sleep.
When medical and other psychological problems commonly associated with autism are identified and managed effectively, behavior is better and more progress in other therapy and school programming is seen.