Autism Spectrum Disorders and Co Existing Conditions

The AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) studies autism specitrum disorders and co existing conditions and why children diagnosed with autism or ASD may no longer meet criteria for an ASD diagnosis.

Determining the success rate a child may have after being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) depends on many variables. Can the diagnosis change if co-existing conditions such as speech delays, seizures or helping fine motor skills are improved upon?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is digging deep to find the root causes of one of the most pressing questions parents have when it comes to the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis in children. In the February 2012 edition of Pediatrics, the AAP states the results of current research may explain why some children diagnosed with ASD may no longer meet the criteria for an autism spectrum diagnosis.

Here is the statement from the AAP. More in the February edition of Pediatrics

CO-EXISTING CONDITIONS MAY EXPLAIN WHY AUTISM DIAGNOSIS CAN CHANGE

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to have a co-occurring neurodevelopmental or psychiatric condition, such as a learning disability or depression. Differentiating between these diagnoses can be challenging, and some children originally diagnosed with ASD no longer meet the criteria for an ASD diagnosis as they grow older. In the study, “Co-occurring Conditions and Change in Diagnosis in Autism Spectrum Disorders,” in the February 2012 Pediatrics (published online Jan. 23), researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the relationship between co-occurring conditions and changes in diagnosis of ASD. Using data from the National Survey of Children’s Health 2007, study authors found the type of co-occurring conditions was dependent on the age of the child. Young children (aged 3-5 years) with a current ASD diagnosis were more likely to have a moderate or severe learning disability or developmental delay compared to children with a past but not current ASD diagnosis. In children ages 6-11, those with a current ASD diagnosis were more likely to have had a past speech problem or current moderate or severe anxiety compared to children with a past but not current ASD diagnosis. Among adolescents (aged 12-17), those with a current ASD diagnosis were more likely to have moderate or severe speech problems or mild seizures or epilepsy compared to children with a past but not current ASD diagnosis. Both children and adolescents with a current ASD diagnosis were less likely to have had past hearing problems than those with a past but not current ASD diagnosis. In all age groups, children with a current ASD diagnosis were more likely to have two or more co-occurring conditions compared to children with a past but not current ASD diagnosis. The study results suggest some co-occurring conditions may, in part, lead to a change in an ASD diagnosis, though the mechanisms underlying this change remain unclear.

This ASD co-existing conditions analysis from the AAP may provide encouragement for parents who have had their child recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Hopefully it will encourage parents to continue to attempt to aggressively treat children through means parents can control like speech therapy, occupational therapy and working on fine motor skills with their children.

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