In this section you find information about how autism affects health and wellbeing in different ways.

What are some of the health complications associated with autism?

People with autism are prone to suffering a range of health related complications that can make life difficult, uncomfortable and in some instances can cause social isolation.

Mental health issues
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
• Low Self esteem
In women with ASD (often undiagnosed) eating disorders, self-harm and other psychological problems may be present.

Physical Health Issues
• Musculoskeletal problems due to difficulties with gait and posture
• Problems with hypermobile joints – sprains, strains and stiffness
• Increased incidence in gut, bowel and stomach problems, cyclic vomiting, constipation or dihoreah
• Increased incidence of allergies and intolerances to certain foods or additives
• Weight control problems due to poor diet or medication – either being under weight or overweight
• Increased incidences of ear nose and throat complications such as “Glue Ear,” ear infections or sinusitis. Problems with low hearing
• Headaches and or migraines
• Increased chance of having epilepsy
• Increased incidence of tics/Tourette syndrome

Oral and Dental Issues
• Overactive gag reflex
• Teeth grinding , refusal to clean teeth , medication causing cavities, cavities from sweet or sticky foods and drinks
• Dental injuries from self-injurious behaviour or eating non-food objects

Other
• Sleep disturbances
• Injuries from lack of danger awareness- i.e. ingesting items, running in front of cars, falling.
• Problems with skin irritation and allergies

Carers of people with disabilities including autism have poorer health, suffer more depression, anxiety and social isolation and are often financially disadvantaged.

Treatment
• It is important people with autism seek support and treatment for the range of complications they may experience.
• Some problems may require medication, others may respond to natural treatments or changes in diets and lifestyle.
• It is important to thoroughly research any forms of treatment for these conditions, and if a treatment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
• Treatment from a team of individuals may be required- i.e. a GP, Peadiatrician, Occupational Therapist, Psychologist, Dietician, Osteopath or Physiotherapist may be required.

For further information on a range of therapies associated with autism –
http://raisingchildren.net.au/parents_guide_to_therapies/parents_guide_to_therapies.html

Epilepsy

Epilepsy Epilepsy is a common condition which affects functioning in the brain causing an electrical impulse disturbance. These electrical impulse disturbances can scramble thoughts, movements, perception and coordination. Approximately 30% of people with ASD develop epilepsy. Children with a severe intellectual disability are most likely to have seizures. Seizures most often develop during early childhood,...


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Medication

There is no medication that can treat or cure autism, but some medications can be used to successfully treat the associated conditions that are often part of autism such as anxiety, obsessive or aggressive behaviour, sleeping problems, ticks or epilepsy. Medication should not be the first line of treatment for all conditions associated with autism,...


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Mental Health

People with ASD may experience a range of mental health issues relating to their ASD symptoms or from the social isolation generated by their ASD. Many people with ASD have previously been misdiagnosed with other conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Women with ASD often suffer mental health issues prior to getting their ASD...


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Sexual Health

Many people in the community assume people with autism or disabilities are not interested in sex or are not sexually active. This is not true; many people with ASD become sexually active, but often do not understand the consequences. • People with ASD have the same biological functioning as others but lack the maturity and...


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Tics & Tourette Syndrome

It is estimated that 20-30% of people with Autism will be affected by vocal or motor tics, Tourette disorder or involuntary movement disorder. These issues can occur in conjunction with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Epilepsy. Tics are: Involuntary- the person has no control over them Rapid Frequent Repetitive Exhausting Affect social interaction Can be either...


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