Children with Autism Experience Interrelated Health Issues

Author: University of Missouri-Columbia
Published: 2012/09/20 - Updated: 2022/04/04
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Children with ASD often experience anxiety chronic gastrointestinal problems and atypical sensory responses heightened by reactions to light, sounds, or textures. Micah Mazurek found in her study of 2,973 children and adolescents with ASD that nearly one-fourth also had chronic GI problems, such as constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or nausea. Clinicians should be aware that anxiety, GI problems, and sensory sensitivity often co-occur in individuals with ASD. Effectively managing these concurrent issues may improve children's quality of life and their responses to treatment.

Main Digest

One in 88 children has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A new study by a University of Missouri researcher found that many children with ASD also experience anxiety, chronic gastrointestinal (GI) problems and atypical sensory responses, which are heightened reactions to light, sound or particular textures. These problems appear to be highly related and can have significant effects on children's daily lives, including their functioning at home and in school.

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Micah Mazurek Picture
Micah Mazurek, an assistant professor and clinical child psychologist, found that anxiety, chronic gastrointestinal problems and atypical sensory responses appear to be highly related in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.
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Clinicians, parents should watch for concurrent medical and psychiatric problems that affect treatment of ASD.

Micah Mazurek, an assistant professor of health psychology and a clinical child psychologist, found in her study of 2,973 children and adolescents with ASD that nearly one-fourth also had chronic GI problems, such as constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea or nausea. The results also showed that children with chronic GI problems were more likely to experience anxiety and sensory problems.

"These problems can have a very real impact on daily life. Children with anxiety may be distressed or reluctant to engage in new activities, and those with sensory problems may have trouble paying attention or participating in over-stimulating environments," Mazurek said. "These children may also suffer uncomfortable GI problems that they may not be able to communicate about to adults."

Clinicians should be aware that anxiety, GI problems and sensory sensitivity often co-occur in individuals with ASD. Effectively managing these concurrent issues may improve children's quality of life and their responses to treatment, Mazurek said.

"Parents need to be aware that these problems may underlie some of their children's difficulties, so if they notice any symptoms, they should talk to their doctors or therapists about treatment options," Mazurek said. "Practitioners who work with children with ASD need to be mindful that there is a pretty high rate of these problems, so if children are treated for one issue, it may be helpful to screen for these additional symptoms."

This is the first study to examine the relationships among anxiety, GI problems and sensory over-responsive in a large, nationally representative sample of children and adolescents with ASD. Participants in the study were enrolled in the Autism Treatment Network, a network of 17 autism centers throughout North America that are focused on best practices for medical treatment of children with ASD.

About The Study

The study, "Anxiety, Sensory Over-Responsive, and Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders," was published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. Mazurek is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Psychology in the MU School of Health Professions and a clinical child psychologist at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Mazurek's coauthors from the School of Health Professions include Stephen Kanne, executive director of the Thompson Center and the William and Nancy Thompson Endowed Chair in Child Health in the Department of Health Psychology; and Lee Ann Lowery, director of the MU Pediatric Occupational Therapy Clinic in the Thompson Center and a clinical associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Several experts external to MU also contributed to the study.

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This quality-reviewed publication titled "Children with Autism Experience Interrelated Health Issues" was chosen for publishing by Disabled World's editors due to its relevance to our readers in the disability community. While the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or brevity, it was originally authored by University of Missouri-Columbia and published 2012/09/20 (Edit Update: 2022/04/04). For further details or clarifications, you can contact University of Missouri-Columbia directly at missouri.edu. Please note that Disabled World does not provide any warranties or endorsements related to this article.

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Cite This Page (APA): University of Missouri-Columbia. (2012, September 20). Children with Autism Experience Interrelated Health Issues. Disabled World. Retrieved April 19, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/autism/interrelated.php

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