What many people don’t know about autism is that it can impact all areas of development, including speech and communication. This makes it hard to find a reliable way for autistic children to communicate their needs through spoken language. One solution: GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms are the most common way parents will learn of an issue with their child’s health. The author discusses how they’ve found success in using this method as well as some other tricks from the Autism community
Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the development of communication, social interaction and behavior. The “autism symptoms” are the most recognizable sign of autism, but there are many other signs to look for. Some of these include “autism & GI (Stomach) Problems: How to Help (+ Prevention)”
Autism is a developmental disease that makes it difficult to socialize and communicate. Medical research is increasingly tying gastrointestinal issues to autism.
It might be difficult to tell if a child’s mood problems, sleep difficulties, and aggressiveness are symptoms of autism or whether they are exacerbated by physical pain from GI issues owing to communication challenges. Food rejection and aversion are common signals that a kid is suffering from stomach and digestive issues, but there may be other symptoms as well.
Consult your physician for a proper diagnosis, since your kid may need medical medication such as antacids or laxatives to aid digestion. Food aversion, rejection, and rituals may all be managed with the aid of a behavior therapist.
You may choose to seek the advice of a nutritionist to assist you in developing a nutritious diet for your kid. Many parents exclude gluten and casein from their children’s diets, but it’s critical to replace these items with nutritious alternatives, particularly fruits and vegetables. You may also give your kid a nutritional supplement, but it’s crucial that they acquire proper eating habits, which frequently necessitates the help of a behavior therapist.
Autism & Gastrointestinal Problems: Understanding the Overlap
Autism is a developmental disorder that physicians usually diagnose based on abnormalities in behavior and learning in children. There are concomitant conditions that may be causally connected when the disease is researched further.
People with autism are more likely than the general population to have gastrointestinal issues, such as stomach and digestive pain. When compared to neurotypical persons, those on the autism spectrum have a 9 percent to 70% higher rate of gastrointestinal complaints.
Gastrointestinal issues are more common in people with autism, including:
According to a 2019 poll, 65 percent of 340 children with autism suffered constipation, 30 percent experienced diarrhea, and 23 percent experienced nausea. The following are symptoms of various illnesses that are more common in persons with autism:
Managing the symptoms of these illnesses need the assistance of a physician. In many circumstances, medicine (either over-the-counter or prescription) may alleviate bloating and pain.
Irritability, aggressive behavior, difficulty sleeping, hyperactivity and inattention, and eating issues, including food rejection or aversion, may all occur before gastrointestinal distress is recognized. Even if the kid receives proper behavior treatment, both internalizing and externalizing issue behaviors might indicate that they are uncomfortable and need medical attention.
Symptoms Your Child Might Have Gastrointestinal Issues
It’s critical to comprehend how gastrointestinal issues influence conduct. According to a 2019 poll, youngsters on the autistic spectrum who simultaneously suffer from nausea are 11 percent more likely to engage in violent conduct. The research also discovered that children aged 2 to 5 were more prone to demonstrate aggressive behaviors as a result of upper gastrointestinal disorders. Between the ages of 6 and 18, older children were more likely to experience anxiety that interfered with their digestion and caused gastrointestinal pain such as constipation or diarrhea.
A 2015 study of 960 children looked at the frequency of gastrointestinal disruptions as well as the severity of autistic symptoms. When compared to children with autism who did not have these symptoms, stomach discomfort, bloating and gaseousness, constipation, diarrhea, and pain during bowel movements were linked to exacerbated irritability, social disengagement, stereotypy, and hyperactivity.
Not just for young children, but also for children on the autistic spectrum who may struggle to articulate their discomfort or suffering, may be unable to compose many phrases, or may be entirely nonverbal, communicating this distress is tough.
The following are signs that your kid may be having gastrointestinal issues but is unable to articulate them:
Too much coughing.
Their chin or face is tapped.
Putting pressure on their stomach.
Chewing on their clothing, fingers, or limbs is a common occurrence.
By slamming their fist or hitting their jaw.
Consuming excessive amounts of food in order to alleviate pain.
In addition to outward hostility, there are self-destructive behavioral changes.
Treatment Combines Medicine & Behavior Therapy
Working with your child’s physician and behavior therapist may help them acquire the diagnosis they need so that therapy can begin. Many parents change their children’s diets, generally by eliminating gluten (wheat protein) and casein (dairy protein), both of which are abundant in the ordinary child’s diet. Switching dietary methods, in theory, allows you to encourage your kid to consume a greater range of healthful foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.
In 2017, a comprehensive evaluation of 19 randomized studies employing a gluten-free, casein-free diet for children with autism revealed no clear data to identify whether or not this was a suitable strategy. Some parents supplement their children’s diets with nutritional supplements to ensure that they receive adequate nourishment, but it’s more vital to work with a behavior therapist to address food aversion and rejection so that your kid can eat a broader range of healthful foods.
If your kid has an underlying gastrointestinal problem, it’s critical that you address it. This might involve the following:
Prescription drugs and even outpatient operations may be required if your kid has a more severe underlying condition such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis. Working with your physician ensures that your kid receives the proper diagnosis.
Food sensitivities may be discovered via elimination diets. It’s critical to work with a behavior therapist to handle these transitions for children who have issues with eating and mealtimes.
Keep an eye on your child’s actions.
More research is required to better understand the gut-brain connection and how it affects autistic symptoms, inflammatory or digestive disorders, and how the two interact. Food digestion issues may exacerbate the symptoms of other comorbid ailments with autism, such as allergies, immune system issues, sleep difficulties, and mood disorders. Clinicians should be aware that children with autism are more likely to have digestive difficulties, so screening for eating challenges, mood swings, and sleep problems, as well as other concerns such as constipation or diarrhea, may assist the kid get treatment as soon as possible.
Chronic gastrointestinal disorders not only exacerbate autistic symptoms, but they may also lead to long-term health concerns. When you combine healthy nutrition with behavioral symptoms, your kid will learn to take better care of himself and express his or her wants as much as possible.
Because behavior therapy is the most common treatment for autism, your child’s behavior therapist may observe changes in their symptoms that signal something else is bothering them. Discussing particular new symptoms or changes in symptoms will help you figure out which treatments are effective and which aren’t. Then, just as with behavioral issues, you may alter your approach to gastrointestinal issues based on observation and data.
Autism and Gastrointestinal Disorders (2014). Autism: A Comprehensive Guide
In Autism Spectrum Disorder, there is a link between gastrointestinal symptoms and problem behaviors (June 2019). Science Daily is a news site dedicated to science.
Children with Autism, Developmental Delays, or Typical Development may have gastrointestinal issues. (May 15, 2015) The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of autism and developmental disorders.
Autism’s Common GI Disorders Health is the main focus.
Gastrointestinal Disorders are a group of diseases that affect the digestive system (March 2019). Drugs.com.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way a person communicates, relates to others, and experiences the world. It is not known what causes autism but it can be associated with GI (Stomach) problems. Reference: autism causes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does autism go away?
A: The symptoms of autism will continue to improve as a person ages. However, the underlying cause of autism is unknown, so there is no cure for this condition yet.
What is the main cause of autism?
A: The main cause of autism is genetic predisposition.
What are the 3 main symptoms of autism?
A: The three main symptoms of autism are difficulties in social interaction, communication and imagination.
- autism spectrum disorder
- autism in adults
- types of autism
- autism in children
- autism treatment
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.