Autism and other physical problems. Double diagnosis?

Can your child tell you when he feels ill or when he is in pain? Or let you know if he was feeling dizzy or faint?

If not then you need to be aware of the symptoms and signs of the next three physical problems so that you can get professional advice and help if your child seems ill. You will also need to learn to ‘read the runes’ – so that you can tell if his contorted face is really a silent scream. If he is hugging or pressing his stomach against things because it aches.

So, did your infant start getting diarrhea and stomach pains or stop gaining weight shortly after he began to eat solid foods like cereals? Did he begin to have skin rashes, especially around the elbows, buttocks, and knees around that time? Does he have anemia or mouth sores? Is he withdrawn or irritable?

If so Celiac disease could be a factor. This digestive disorder caused when the body’s immune system has an adverse reaction to gluten a protein found in grains like wheat rye and barley and many of the everyday foods we eat. That reaction results in inflammation, damaging the lining of the small intestine and making it hard for the person to absorb nutrients like fat, calcium, iron, and folate; leaving the person malnourished no matter how much they eat.

Unfortunately treatment is, of necessity, a gluten-free diet, something that can be particularly hard to implement with any child.

Top Tips

Help him by eating the same food as he does.
Focus on the things he can eat – like rice, quinoa, fruit, vegetables and many Indian foods.
Get him to help you choose foods.
Bake your own bread from gluten free flour – or invest in a bread machine.
Try using the free app – Find Me Gluten Free.

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More gastrointestinal problems now.  Does your child has severe, chronic or recurrent abdominal pain? Or suffer from chronic constipation that doesn’t readily respond to laxatives? Does he have blood in his stools? Or vomit frequently?

Such things need urgent investigation for, while they may be indicative of problems like IBS there are other potential problems like that of inflammatory bowel disease; that causes lumpy swellings in the intestine, along with recurring inflammation and constipation.

This area is still controversial (something I’ll return to later in this series) but,  despite that, research now shows that this bowel disease, has been found in a substantial group of children with ASD, and does have characteristic features that are different to those of other inflammatory bowel diseases – although it can co-exist alongside them.

It has also been shown that treating the physical symptoms can often diminish the behavioral problems as well, although sadly (and shamefully) the whole controversy has meant that some children and adults have found it difficult to get their symptoms properly investigated and treated.  Hopefully your concerns will be  taken seriously but if not you may have to change doctors.

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Perhaps though you are worried because your child urinates frequently – and in large amounts. Or has begun wetting the bed. Perhaps he gulps down vast quantities of milk, water or juice whenever he can. Or despite eating more is losing weight. Seems tired or drowsy. Has frequent stomach aches nausea or vomiting. Has a strange fruity smell to his breath. And breathes heavily or rapidly.

If so it is worthwhile getting your doctor to check for diabetes which, although not too common among children with ASD, certainly affects some of them.

As you know this happens when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to process the sugars in the blood properly which,  literally starves the cells of energy.  As the sugar build up continues the body tries to  eliminate it via the kidneys which is why he needs to urinate so often.

The early symptoms are not always as clear in infants, especially if they cannot tell you when they are thirst or have an increased appetite due to a growth spurts. And yet there is one additional symptom that may offer a clue – a fungal or yeast diaper (nappy) rash that doesn’t improve with medicated creams.

Useful links:

http://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/autism-diabetes#3
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/autismplusdiabetes/info

 Autism and the sixth sense Steady on!

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About Stella Waterhouse

Stella Waterhouse first came across autism in the late 1960s when she met three very different children, all of whom shared the same diagnosis. She began researching autism in 1990 and is a published author of several books including A Positive Approach to Autism which attracted good reviews from such well known autism experts as Donna Williams and Paul Shattock OBE. She has also authored a series of concise but informative books for parents and teachers, and is currently completing her forthcoming series The Autism Code.

For more information see www.autismdecoded.com