Autism Complications

Written by The Healthline Editorial Team & Julie Roddick | Published on October 6, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, MBA on October 6, 2014

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neural development disorder that begins in the first few years of life. It’s often not diagnosed before the age of three. ASD impairs the communication and social skills to varying degrees. The effects depend upon where a person’s autism falls in the spectrum of severity. It can range from mild (Asperger syndrome) to severe. Those in the mild ranges are usually fully functional in their daily lives and in society. Those in the more severe range may require care and support for their entire lives.

An ASD can be challenging to deal with on its own. This is true for both for the individual and for the caretakers. ASD is often accompanied by other disorders and problems. There are many layers to ASD, ranging from being a behavioral disorder to a genetic disorder to a multiple organ disorder.

Additional Challenges of ASD

There are often additional complications and disorders that add to the challenges of treatment, caretaking, and therapy for ASD. A person can also have companion conditions. Some of the disorders and other problems that tend to accompany ASD are described below.

Sensory Problems

Someone with an ASD can be very sensitive to sensory input. It can be severe enough that common sensations can cause significant emotional discomfort. Alternatively, they may not respond at all to some extreme sensations, such as heat, cold, or pain.

Seizures

Seizures are a very common component of ASD. They often begin in young autistic children or autistic teenagers.

Mental Health Issues

According to the National Autistic Society, people with ASD are prone to depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior, and mood swings.

Tuberous Sclerosis

This rare disorder causes benign tumors to grow in the organs, including the brain. The link between tuberous sclerosis and ASD is unclear. However, ASD rates are much higher among children with tuberous sclerosis than those without the condition.

Mental Impairment

Autistic children often have at least some level of mental impairment. This can include fragile X syndrome, which is a defect on a section of the X chromosome. This is a very common cause of mental impairment, particularly among boys.

Other Complications

Other problems that can accompany ASD are aggression, odd sleeping and eating habits, and digestive issues.

Challenges for Caretakers

In order to provide proper care for children and adults with ASD, it’s important for the caregivers to also take care of themselves. Many caregivers are overly stressed and sleep-deprived. This can lead to mistakes in care. Taking care of your own health with good nutrition, hydration, sleep, and exercise is just as important for you as it is for the person you are caring for.

As Family Caregiver Alliance notes, asking for help and accepting help is also an important part of caregiving. Talk to doctors if you need assistance, or just a break, with caregiving.

Long-Term Outlook

With early and proper treatment, many people with ASD grow up to lead independent and productive lives. Early intervention programs, medications to help manage symptoms and complications, and a supportive environment can be combined to create a promising future for patients with ASD.

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