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Saturday, June 1, 2024

Health Problems of Autistic Adults

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their familiesHealth problems are prominent among them. 

Li, Y., Xie, T., Snieder, H., & Hartman, C. A. (2024). Associations between autistic and comorbid somatic problems of gastrointestinal disorders, food allergy, pain, and fatigue in adults. Autism, 0(0). Lay Abstract:

What is already known about the topic?

Autistic children frequently often have accompanying physical health problems. However, this has been much less studied in autistic men and women during adulthood.

What does this article add?

This is one of the first studies to investigate the associations between autistic and somatic problems in adults from the general population. Using a continuous measure of autistic symptom scores and a categorical definition of autism (referred to below as probable autism) which considered symptom severity, childhood age of onset, and functional impairment, we found that autistic problems and  irritable bowel syndrome, food allergy, pain, and fatigue were associated in adults. Sex differences were present for pain and fatigue, for which the associations with autistic symptom scores were somewhat stronger in females than males. Regarding age differences, the associations with fatigue and having food allergy were more pronounced in younger adults. Conversely, older individuals had a higher risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome or experiencing pain if they met the criteria for probable autism.

Implications for practice, research, or policy

There is a need for providing routine programs of screening, assessment, and treatment of autism-related somatic problems and developing evidence-based interventions for autistic individuals. These could be tailored to the needs of specific autistic populations. For example, autistic females could be given extra attention about the potential presence of pain and fatigue, younger adults about the potential presence of food allergy and fatigue, and older adults concerning the potential presence of irritable bowel syndrome and pain.