In The Politics of Autism, I write:
Autism often involves a range of other co-occurring conditions: intellectual disabilities (e.g., low IQ); delays in gross motor skills (e.g., walking, throwing) and fine motor skills (e.g., writing); attention problems and hyperactivity; anxiety; self-injurious behavior; unusual sensitivity to certain sounds, smells, or feelings; extreme food selectivity; and sleep disorders. For autistic people and their families, the co-occurring conditions may cause as much anguish as the autism itself.
Most men with autism have psychiatric disorders such as depression, finds a study of 50 men diagnosed with the disorder roughly 20 years ago. The findings highlight the range of challenges for adults with autism, many of whom lack the help they need.
Among the men who have another disorder, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in particular went unrecognized and untreated. The study was published 26 July in theJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders1.
“The focus on autism alone has led to undertreatment of both depression and ADHD,” says lead researcher Christopher Gillberg, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. “Everyone who works with people with Asperger’s or autism needs to be aware that they should be looking out for these problems.”
The study is remarkable because it follows the same individuals over an extended period of time, says Matthew Siegel, assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Tufts University in Massachusetts. The findings also highlight the need for better diagnostic tools for adults with autism, Siegel says.
The study is a follow-up to an analysis of 100 Swedish boys and teens diagnosed with Asperger syndrome between 1985 and 1991. (The syndrome, characterized by high language ability, has since been folded into an autism diagnosis.)