• Medical conditions associated with autism

    Autism is a developmental disorder that can cause physical, emotional and behavioral differences. It’s challenging to raise a child with autism , and these challenges can be accompanied by medical conditions. Pediatric specialists have identified several medical conditions that occur at higher rates in children with autism, including gastrointestinal problems and sleep disorders. If you have any concerns about your child’s health or development, consider talking to a pediatric specialist at Sunrise Children’s Hospital.

    Gastrointestinal problems

    The medical conditions that are most strongly associated with autism are gastrointestinal disorders. A child with autism is more likely to experience the following:

    • Chronic constipation
    • Chronic diarrhea
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
    • Abdominal pain

    A child’s stomach problems may be further compounded by food selectivity. Many children with autism are picky eaters who may not get enough important nutrients in their diets, such as fiber. It takes patience and persistence—and perhaps professional help—to encourage a picky eater to try new foods.

    Sleep disturbances

    Problems falling asleep and staying asleep are common for children with autism. Pediatric specialists note that sleep is essential for a child’s physical and emotional health, behavioral stability and academic progress. Here are a few tips to help children with autism sleep better :

    • Maintain a predictable sleep/wake schedule.
    • Do a predictable, relaxing bedtime routine.
    • Maintain a cool, dark sleep environment.
    • Avoid giving the child caffeine.
    • Encourage daytime exercise.

    Anxiety disorders

    Dedicated pediatric specialists firmly believe that every child deserves good quality of life. Unfortunately, children with autism often suffer from anxiety disorders that can limit their enjoyment of life. Since children can be particularly sensitive to medications, a pediatric specialist may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy as a first course of action. If therapy alone cannot adequately manage the child’s anxiety, parents might consider weighing the pros and cons of medications with the help of a pediatric specialist.

    Raising a child with autism certainly has its challenges, but if you live in the greater Las Vegas area, your family can count on support from the pediatrics team at Sunrise Children’s Hospital . We are a specialized children’s hospital that provides compassionate care to young patients and their families. Call our nurse referral line at (702) 233-5437.