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What is autism?

According to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that causes differences in the brain (CDC, 2022). Autism affects how people learn, communicate, interact, and behave with others. Individuals from all genders, races, ethnicities, and economic groups have been diagnosed with ASD. While there remains no evidence of completely recovering autism, treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and lifelong health conditions (NIMH, 2022).

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Frequency Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do all people with autism have a mental health disorder?

People with autism have a developmental disability. It is not a mental health problem. Autistic people can be mentally well. When people with autism also experience a mental illness, a Behavior Analyst can help by making referrals to a mental health professional.

What are common mental illnesses in people with autism?

Common mental illnesses in people with autism include: 

Why is it important to address health & wellness in people with autism?

Addressing health and wellness in people with autism is important because studies report that autistic adults are more likely to have chronic health conditions along with self-reported lower quality healthcare than others (Weir, 2022). 

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Incidence of Mental Health Disorders In People With ASD

 Effective learning requires a healthy state. Prevalence rates have indicated that 70-95% of people with ASD also have a psychiatric or mental health disorder (Mosner et al., 2019). People with autism are more likely to experience comorbidity than the general population. Comorbidities refer to the simultaneous presence of two or more illnesses. Unwell people do not perform adequately, as a result, children with autism may lose skills or fail to retain skills because of untreated medical conditions (Beltagi, 2021). Co-occurring diagnoses like, anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression are mental health disorders that can lead to symptoms of irritability, aggression, lack of appetite, and inattention (NAMI, 2022).

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Healthcare Disparities For Ethnic And Low-Income Families Of Children With ASD

"Health equity" is defined as the state in which everyone has the opportunity to attain full health potential. There are significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of children with autism that impact their ability to access quality care for maximizing treatment outcomes at the early developmental stages. Specifically, amongst children from African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian families, as well as, children from low-income communities studies have found that compared with white children and those of higher socioeconomic status are less likely to be both identified and diagnosed with ASD early on. This means that children from minority groups are less likely to capitalize on early autism-specific intervention services when receiving treatment to develop specific neurological functions is most important (Aylward et al., 2021).

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