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Autism Complications

Autism spectrum disorder

Key points

  1. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neural development disorder that can affect your communication and social skills. Your ASD may be mild or severe.
  2. ASD can put you at risk of several complications and health challenges. For example, people with ASD often experience sensory problems, seizures, or other complications.
  3. If you have ASD, it’s important to get early treatment and support. If you take care of someone with ASD, it’s important to ask for help when you need it and take good care of your own health too.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in the first few years of life. In many cases, it isn’t diagnosed before the age of 3.

ASD can impair your communication and social skills to varying degrees. The effects depend upon where your autism falls on the spectrum of severity. It can range from mild (Asperger syndrome) to severe. People with mild ASD are usually fully functional in their daily lives and society. Those with more severe forms of ASD may require ongoing care and support for their entire lives.

ASD can be challenging to deal with on its own. This is true for both patients and caregivers. ASD is often accompanied by other disorders and problems. These additional disorders and complications can add to the challenges of managing ASD.

Complications of ASD

If you have ASD, you may experience sensory problems, seizures, mental health disorders, or other complications.

Sensory problems

If you have ASD, you may be very sensitive to sensory input. Something as common as loud noises or bright lights may cause you significant emotional discomfort. Alternatively, you may not respond at all to some sensations, such as extreme heat, cold, or pain.

Seizures

Seizures are common among people with ASD. They often begin in childhood or your teenage years.

Mental health issues

Having ASD puts you at risk of depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior, and mood swings.

Mental impairment

Many people with ASD have some level of mental impairment. Children with fragile X syndrome are more likely to develop ASD. This syndrome is caused by a defect on a section of the X chromosome. It’s a common cause of mental impairment, particularly among boys.

Tumors

Tuberous sclerosis is a rare disorder that causes benign tumors to grow in your organs, including your 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, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other complications

Other problems that can accompany ASD include aggression, unusual sleep habits, unusual eating habits, and digestive issues.

Challenges for caretakers

If you’re taking care of a child or adult with ASD, it’s important to take good care of yourself too. Many caregivers experience stress and lack of sleep. 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’re caring for.

Asking others for help, and accepting it when you need it, is also an important part of caregiving. If you find it difficult to manage the demands of caregiving, talk to your doctor. They may offer strategies or resources to help you cope.

Long-term outlook

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

If you suspect that you or your child has ASD, speak to your doctor.

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