Facing Autism in New Brunswick: 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

Abstract

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.
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