Comorbidities of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Rose Akinsehinwa September 2017
Research and data have established that most individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) suffer from some form of medical health problems . Some of these comorbid health issues include but are not limited to:
Seizures described as an abnormal electrical activity in the brain whose symptoms include eye gaze, increase or decrease in muscle tone and some unusual sensation affecting the 5 senses. In more severe cases, there may be violent shaking and loss of control. Seizures can be attended to by some basic first aid like loosening clothing around the person’s neck to prevent choking. Roll the person on his or her side to keep the airway open and don’t put anything into the person mouth. To help prevent injury, move sharp objects, such as glassware or furniture, away from the person and ensure that you do not restrain or hold down the person and give enough room and stay with the person until emergency professional help arrives. Tests and medication may be required.
Food allergies and intolerances or hypersensitivities described as an abnormal response to a food that is triggered by the immune system. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea and some skin reactions. Some symptoms could escalate to wheezing and constriction of the lungs within a few minutes or an hour. Some common food allergens that might cause allergic reactions in children include eggs, milk, and peanuts. Allergy testing is often done to check for allergies to common foods. The best treatment for food allergies is to avoid all food your child is allergic to. Once an individual/parent and a doctor have identified the food to which the person is sensitive, the food must be removed from the diet. Read food labels carefully and avoid restaurant foods that might have ingredients to which they are allergic. Severe cases will need immediate medical attention.
Gastro-Intestinal Disorders is the most common co-morbidity faced by about 70% of children with ASD, according to studies. GIDs as it is referred can present itself in the form of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and irregular bowel movements. Due to limited or no communication in children with ASD, the child might try to find relief by applying pressure on the abdomen, pressing on furniture or engage in some self- injurious behavior. Diet, enzymes, and medication heal the gut and supplements work to treat nutritional deficiencies, the immune system may be helped. There are other more invasive or alternative biomedical treatments that are used, by some, to boost the immune system, a doctor should be consulted.
Sleep disorders or insomnia which many children with autism face. Sleep deprivation can lead to other behavior problems and inability to concentrate and learn. Developing a sleep and waking up routine will go a long way in aiding with this problem. Make the atmosphere of the bedroom relaxing and set the temperatures and lighting suitable for the individual child to sleep. Some experts have suggested some form of physically tasking activity that can tire the child just before bedtime. Whatever works for your child, remember consistency is key. When all else fails, seeing a doctor who can prescribe medication for a short period might be helpful. Medication is meant to only help to establish routine for a short period of days must be discontinued after the prescription.
All of the above cormorbidities can impact negatively on communication, cognitive, behavioural and social life of the child with ASD therefore, appropriate medical interventions are recommended to help.