Why Do People With Autism Have a Lower Average Lifespan?

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Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication, problems with repetitive behavior patterns, significant impairments in everyday functioning, distress that interferes with quality of life. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are usually diagnosed during the first three years of infancy or childhood. The average lifespan for an individual living with autism has been estimated to be between 28-38 years old.,

People with autism are born into a world that is not always understanding. They can have a harder time interacting with people, and this can cause them to have a lower average lifespan than the general population. Read more in detail here: oldest autistic person.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be linked to a shorter life expectancy. Autism does not produce a shorter lifetime in and of itself, although symptoms associated with the illness may have an impact on mortality.

Autism & Lifespan

Adults with an autism spectrum disorder who have a learning disability are 40 times more likely than adults in the general population who do not have learning disabilities to have a shorter average lifespan due to a neurological condition, according to a March 2016 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

In addition, persons with autism who did not have a cognitive impairment were up to nine times more likely to commit suicide than adults of comparable ages who did not have autism, according to the research.

In this research, persons with autism spectrum condition died at an average age of 54, 16 years younger than the general population. Adults with autism and one or more learning problems died over 30 years earlier, at an average age of 39.5 years, than those who had none. Autism patients who did not have a cognitive handicap died at an average age of 58.

Autism & Suicidal Ideation

Suicidal thoughts is substantially more common in persons with ASD than in the general population, according to previous study.

Girls with autism and persons with milder forms of the illness had greater prevalence. Furthermore, according to the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, many persons on the spectrum (mainly children and adolescents, but sometimes adults) are bullied on a regular basis. This often results in the development of anxiety and depression disorders.

Those circumstances are primary causes of suicide thinking and action on their own. It considerably raises the risk factors for persons with autism spectrum disorder when paired with some of the obstacles of living with autism.

Autistic People Experience More Stress

According to other studies, the general population had superior overall health than persons with autism.

Other medical issues, such as gastrointestinal diseases and cardiac illness, have been linked to autism spectrum disorder. One of the links might be stress induced by autism-related discrimination and bullying, anxiety from sensory overload, and alienation owing to autism’s socio-emotional and communication impairments.

When it comes to circumstances that would be considered “normal” for neurotypical persons, many people with autism experience a persistent state of “fight or flight.” Everything from a job interview to a social gathering may be psychologically draining, resulting in a variety of physical and physiological issues. Even as they cope with the reality of life with autism, some individuals battle with stress and anxiety for the rest of their lives.


People with autism spectrum disorder are 40 times more likely to die as a consequence of numerous injuries, including drowning, asphyxiation, and suffocation, according to Psychology Today.

Children with autism who are between the ages of 5 and 7 are at the highest risk of drowning. Given that this population is prone to wandering or running away, any family with access to a body of water (whether it a swimming pool, pond, lake, or river) will need to invest in swimming training and water safety procedures.

Autistic People are at a Higher Risk

Sarah Kurchak wrote an article for Vox in 2018 on approaching death at the age of 36, “the typical age at which individuals like me die.” She claims that people with autism encounter obstacles that neurotypical individuals are unaware of. While many people believe that the difficulties are limited to socio-emotional language barriers, the reality that autistic persons have a higher death rate adds to the burden.

People with autism, for example, “appear to be at substantially heightened risk for death from injury” due to getting lost, not being able to ask for help, not being able to give their name or emergency contact information, or becoming so overstimulated that they panic and put themselves in danger, according to the American Journal of Public Health.

The fact that autistic persons live shorter lives than the general population has racial and gender implications. Because of a number of situations in which police officers have misinterpreted noncompliant and noncommunicative actions from autistic persons as indicators of suspicion and, in the event of overstimulation, hostility, Forbes magazine declares autism to be a “deadly threat when interacting with the police.”

The Chicago Reader reports that “those with autism spectrum disorder are seven times more likely to meet police” than persons without such problems, citing the case of a 15-year-old kid with Asperger’s syndrome who was slain by police. These contacts are more likely to end in death when the patients are Black, Latinx, or otherwise non-white.

Autism & ‘Medical Complexities’

The “medical complexities” of patients with autism, combined with their limitations in language and communication, can lead to physicians, hospitals, and the health-care system as a whole not being able to provide the best level of care, according to Scott Wright, a researcher at the University of Utah and editor of a book about autism spectrum disorder in middle age and later life. It’s likely that individuals with severe types of autism spectrum condition don’t seek treatment for their symptoms because they’re too embarrassed to speak about themselves with others.

Wright recommends that a parent or caregiver seek for a specialist or main care physician who has had training in dealing with autistic patients or who otherwise exhibits the required understanding and sensitivity for what an autistic person must go through. More training for health care providers is also needed, according to Wright, so that autism can be detected and treated effectively in a clinical context.

Furthermore, many people still link autism with pediatrics, despite the fact that many persons with autism spectrum condition are diagnosed as adults. Wright came to the conclusion that autism is a problem at all levels of health care. It is a concern not just in pediatrics, but also in internal medicine, primary care, clinical practice, and geriatrics. Finally, it’s “a life-course problem that we all need to be aware of.”

The stress and weariness of living with autism, adds Sarah Kurchak in Vox, are the more subtle causes to shortened lifespans for most persons with autistic spectrum condition. To live a healthy life, gain self-esteem, challenge stereotypes, or just get through the day, autistic persons must learn a variety of coping mechanisms.

Sleep disturbances have been linked to autism, which may result in insomnia, chronic exhaustion, and a variety of other medical and psychological issues, especially when paired with the worry that many individuals on the spectrum experience.

Increasing Health Factors for Autistic People

One strategy to address this issue is to teach parents, carers, and health care professionals how to spot indications of depression in people with autism as early as possible while continuing to strengthen their social interactions and abilities.

Treatment for social anxiety disorder (which, according to the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, has “partially overlapping symptoms”) may also assist individuals manage their social development and regulate their tendency to avoid social situations like making a doctor’s visit.

This may also help persons with autism learn how to deal with the emotions of loneliness and frustration that come with the condition. If suicidal thinking arises, they have a structure in place to help them process those ideas and seek help.

Bullying must be handled as well. Attacks on autistic children and teenagers impede them from growing socially, and they may lead to despair and suicide thoughts on their own.

Parents who are worried about this might look for school programs that provide integrated classrooms, where kids with special needs are included in regular classes. This naturally aids autistic youngsters who have problems fitting in. It also allows non-autistic children to interact with autistic children, making them less likely to regard them as targets.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that individuals with autism follow the same health-care guidelines as neurotypical persons. These include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a well-balanced diet, drinking enough of water, and having regular medical and dental examinations.

Specialized Treatment

Working with providers who understand how to deal with autistic people is useful (or perhaps vital), as previously said. It may be beneficial to have a professional who knows how to communicate with a person with autism, from the variety of health conditions that might present with autism to basic symptoms like not establishing eye contact. “We’re not really comfortable with eye contact and are weary of being pushed to make it,” Sarah Kurchak says.

Health care providers that are familiar with autism and have worked with autistic people will be able to have more honest and open talks with their patients. If the patient is at ease, they are more likely to open up to the medical expert, allowing difficulties to be discovered and managed more efficiently.

Addressing Lifespan-Affecting Factors

While persons with autism tend to have shorter lives than neurotypical people, this does not always guarantee that you will. Consult your physicians and other care providers about how to evaluate your lifestyle and make any adjustments that will improve your general health and reduce your chances of dying sooner.

Keep in mind that autism does not result in a shorter lifetime. You may take precautions to reduce your risk.


A new study warns that people with autism are ‘dying younger’ (March 2016). NHS.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Premature Mortality (January of this year). The British Journal of Psychiatry is a peer-reviewed journal published in the United Kingdom.

Suicide and Autism: Is There a Connection? (February 2019). Today’s Psychology.

Who Is the Victim of Autism Spectrum Disorder and School Bullying? What is the identity of the perpetrator? (As of January 2019) The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of autism and developmental disorders.

(March/April 2014). Gastrointestinal Issues in Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Harvard Review of Psychiatry is a peer-reviewed journal published by Harvard University.

Filicide Prevention in Autistic Children’s Families. In February of 2003, Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology is an international journal dedicated to offender therapy and comparative criminology.

Suicides involving disabled children are known as filicides (July 2012). The Journal of Child Neurology is a publication dedicated to the study of children’s brain

Police say a Sunnyvale mother killed her autistic son and then killed herself (March 2012). SFGate.

Who is to blame if a parent murders an autistic child? (October 2013). Forbes.

What a New Study Reveals About Autism, Health Care, and Life Expectancy (In April of 2016). University of Utah Health is a public university in Utah.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Patients Are More Likely to Die Young (October 2018). Today’s Psychology.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Intellectual Disability are more likely to wander (July 2017). Pediatrics is a journal published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Why Do Cops Need Specialized Training to Interact With People on the Autism Spectrum? (June 2018). Spectrum.

When the Police Stop a Special Needs Teenager. (In February of 2020) The New York Times is a newspaper based in New York City.

I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m 36 years old, which is the average age at which people my age die. (February of this year). Vox.

A Prospective Longitudinal Community-Based Study of Mortality in Autism. (Updated October 2009). The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of autism and developmental disorders.

Individuals with autism, both with and without epilepsy, have a higher mortality rate (April 2011). The Journal of Child Neurology is a publication dedicated to the study of children’s brain

Excess Mortality and Death Causes in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Follow-Up of the Utah/UCLA Autism Epidemiologic Study from the 1980s (October 2012). The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of autism and developmental disorders.

Individuals with Autism Are More Likely to Suffer From Injuries. (April 2017). The American Journal of Public Health is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes research

When it comes to dealing with the police, autism is a deadly hazard. (In June of 2020). Forbes.

Police killed a black autistic man (December 2015). Reader in Chicago.

Sleep Disorders and Autism (October-December 2015). The Journal of Pediatric Neurosciences is a publication dedicated to the study of children’s brains

Attention to Others’ Eyes in Social Anxiety Disorder Is Differentially Related to Autistic Traits and Symptoms of Social Anxiety. (2017). The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of autism and developmental disorders.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Everyday Life (ASD). (Updated August 2019). The CDC stands for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What Exactly Is Autism? The National Autism Association (NAA) is a non-profit organization

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the brain. It is characterized by difficulties with social interaction, repetitive behaviors, and communication. People with autism have been found to have a lower average lifespan than those without the disorder. Reference: autism death rates.

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