How Do Medical Problems Affect Autism?

Autism interventions for children with other medical issues may need tailoring

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other medical conditions need care for both, and new research suggests that ASD treatments may need to take other medical problems under consideration.

Recent research found that children who had a medical condition on top of their ASD did not respond as well to early interventions. Help for ASD may need be adjusted to account for the special needs of children with another medical problem.

"Talk to your child’s psychiatrist about autism treatments."

The study, led by Mats Eriksson, MD, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, enrolled 208 preschool children with ASD who had all taken part in an early intervention program.

They used scores on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales to look at the children's levels of function. The interview asks parents and caregivers to rate personal and social skills that are important for daily life, including communication, social skills and physical development.

Researchers followed up two years later and looked at scores on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, for children with other health conditions compared to those who had only an ASD diagnosis.

In this study, 18 percent of the children had a medical condition in addition to ASD. About half of that 18 percent had epilepsy.

At the follow-up, children with a medical condition had lower scores on the measure of adaptive behavior.

Children with an additional medical condition were also diagnosed with ASD at an earlier age than those without a medical condition.

The authors concluded that children with ASD and other medical concerns may be diagnosed earlier, but did not show the same level of improvement after an early intervention.

They wrote, “The results underscore the importance of considering medical/genetic aspects in all young children with ASD and the requirement to individualize and tailor interventions according to their specific needs.”

This study was published July 27 in the journal European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Conflicts of interest information was not available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 6, 2012
Last Updated:
April 2, 2013