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Study: Autistic adults often have other serious health conditions

As we have discussed in past posts, often it seems that one disabling illness or condition leads to others, throwing a person’s physical, mental and financial wellbeing into a downward spiral.

A recent example of this was documented by researchers who found that adults with autism face a greater likelihood of developing other serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease or obesity.

After analyzing the medical records and insurance claims of more than 23,000 adults, researchers determined that people with autism were much more likely to develop other physical and mental health problems compared to adults who were not autistic.

For example, close to a third of people with autism who were studied also were treated for the conditions of obesity or hypertension, while less than a fifth of non-autistic people were affected by these conditions.

Depression and anxiety were also more than twice as common among those with autism compared to those without the developmental disorder. Finally, bipolar disorder was eight times as prevalent and epilepsy was 12 times as prevalent among those on the spectrum.

The lead researcher on the study said that one of the reasons adults with autism appear to experience greater health problems compared to the general public could have to do with the social and communication problems associated with autism.

Preventative care could also be neglected among members of this population because of the sensory sensitivities that are often experienced by autistic individuals, the lead researcher said.

For a variety of complex reasons, it appears that many serious health conditions are interlinked and can result in the fast deterioration of an individual’s physical, mental and financial wellbeing.

The good news is that Social Security Disability benefits are often available to help support individuals with autism and other physical and mental health conditions when they are prevented from working.

Source: Disability Scoop, “Study Finds Adults With Autism More Prone To Chronic Disease,” Michelle Diament, May 14, 2014

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