5 Things You Didn't Know About Autism
Thanks to advances in science, a child born with autism today has greater opportunities than ever before to lead a happy, productive life. Research is also shifting our perspective on the condition. For instance, did you know that 46% of children diagnosed with autism actually have an average or above-average IQ? Still, as experts delve deeper into autism spectrum disorder (ASD)—defined by difficulties with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors—they find that we've just scratched the surface in terms of comprehending it. Consider these five game-changing facts about a condition that is all too often misunderstood.
Autism Can Be Linked to Other Health Problems
Managing one disorder is challenging enough, but many parents of children with autism have multiple issues to deal with in their kid. About 65% of children with ASD, for example, also have apraxia, an otherwise rare speech disorder. It's important to get screening for both conditions, since they respond well to early intervention but require different types of treatment, says Michael Rosanoff, MPH, director for Public Health Research for the nonprofit advocacy group Autism Speaks. Similarly, almost 30% of kids with autism also show signs of ADHD. "This is really important because children with both conditions tend to have a tougher time, especially with learning, and may require more support in school and other settings," explains Susan E. Levy, MD, MPH, director of the Regional Autism Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Conversely, if your child has ADHD and significant social impairment, make sure he gets screened for autism as well. Kids with ASD are also more likely to have anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and GI disorders such as constipation, diarrhea and irritable or inflammatory bowel disease. "We think there are physical differences in the guts of people with autism—they may have more 'bad' bacteria that trigger digestive symptoms," explains Rosanoff. Researchers are studying whether probiotics can help relieve symptoms.