In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Health problems are prominent among them.
Emily Rothman and colleagues have an Autism article titled "Reasons for alcohol use and non-use by underage U.S. autistic youth: A qualitative study." Abstract:
This study describes the views and experiences of autistic youth about alcohol, including reasons for use and nonuse. We conducted 40 semi-structured interviews with autistic youth aged 16–20 years old. Of these, 20 had consumed alcohol in the past year. We used an inductive content-based analysis approach. Youth were deliberate about their choices to use, or abstain from, alcohol. Some conducted their own background research on the effects of alcohol, while others took a very measured approach to drinking and paced their alcohol consumption during drinking episodes with care. Reasons not to drink included fear of developing alcohol addiction, not liking the taste of alcohol, concern about alcohol interacting with prescribed medications, as well as the desire to avoid hangover, disinhibition, or other negative effects. On the contrary, youth had some positive alcohol expectancies: non-autistic people are more accepting when drinking, alcohol helps autistic people cope with problems, irritability, boredom, and sensory processing challenges, and helps them fit in. Results reveal that alcohol use disorder in autistic adults could have its roots in underage experiences that provide temporary relief from social anxiety, feeling socially isolated, and challenges with sensory processing. The development of evidence-based youth alcohol prevention strategies for autistic youth may be an important next step.