Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Surprise! A Meaningful Autism Disorder Study Provides Evidence of Autism's Harsh Realities

Autism is a disorder which, far beyond its core diagnostic criteria, brings with it higher than average medical conditions and psychiatric illnesses.   The health status of adults on the autism spectrum study confirms the harsh realities of autism disorders and should not be ignored or lightly dismissed by academics, mainstream media or professional "self" advocates who, despite their very high functioning levels, insist on burying the harsh realities of the severely autistic, like my son, in the mounds of autism ignorance they dump on the public landscape. As the study indicates autism disorders mean significantly higher than average psychiatric illnesses and medical conditions.  Not much joy to be found in those realities.This study though should be helpful in bringing a much needed dose of autism realities to the  public understanding of autism disorders and the harsh realities that accompany them.

The health status of adults on the autism spectrum

  1. Lisa A Croen1
  2. Ousseny Zerbo1
  3. Yinge Qian1
  4. Maria L Massolo1
  5. Steve Rich2
  6. Stephen Sidney1
  7. Clarissa Kripke3
  1. 1Kaiser Permanente Northern California—Oakland, USA
  2. 2Kaiser Permanente Northern California—Santa Rosa, USA
  3. 3University of California, San Francisco, USA
  1. Lisa A Croen, Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California—Oakland, 2000 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, USA. Email: Lisa.A.Croen@kp.org


Compared to the general pediatric population, children with autism have higher rates of co-occurring medical and psychiatric illnesses, yet very little is known about the general health status of adults with autism. The objective of this study was to describe the frequency of psychiatric and medical conditions among a large, diverse, insured population of adults with autism in the United States. Participants were adult members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California enrolled from 2008 to 2012. Autism spectrum disorder cases (N = 1507) were adults with autism spectrum disorder diagnoses (International Classification of Diseases-9-Clinical Modification codes 299.0, 299.8, 299.9) recorded in medical records on at least two separate occasions. Controls (N = 15,070) were adults without any autism spectrum disorder diagnoses sampled at a 10:1 ratio and frequency matched to cases on sex and age. Adults with autism had significantly increased rates of all major psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and suicide attempts. Nearly all medical conditions were significantly more common in adults with autism, including immune conditions, gastrointestinal and sleep disorders, seizure, obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes. Rarer conditions, such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease, were also significantly more common among adults with autism. Future research is needed to understand the social, healthcare access, and biological factors underlying these observations.


Anonymous said...

Wish I could access this study... I wonder how many "medical conditions" are the direct result of the many medications (antipsychotics, and, yes, some AEDs)? The direct result of lack of physical activity? Lack of access to QUALITY care is certainly a problem, but the emphasis is on "quality".

Peter Lloyd-Thomas said...

Following on Roger's point about where are the autistic adults, where are the adults with Down Syndrome? I was shocked to learn that while people with Down Syndrome can live to their 70s today in the US, in 1970 the mean age at death was ten years old. Back then they were all put in iinstitutions and clearly left to rot. It seems that the cause of death was recorded at Down Syndrome. The is no such data for autism because autism is not seen as a cause of death. So its pretty clear that kids put into institutions with autism ended up like those with Down Syndrome. Hence not many old timers with autism in the 1990s and 2000s.

Unknown said...

Autistic adults have the legal right to live in the least restrictive setting. However, the real reason many parents place their autistic adult children isn't because they couldn't care for their adult child anymore, it's because the proper supports and services to care for their children at home (often the least restrictive setting) were ignored, downplayed and denied. Connor is so blessed to have you Harold. You and your wife has dedicated your entire lives to protecting and advocating for your son. Many would've thrown in the towel by now. I salute you and your wife, Harold. You are both amazing, loving and committed parents of an awesome young man.