Autism, Co-occurring Conditions & Diagnosis
These are medical conditions and diagnoses that are commonly found in people with Autism. They are also called “Co-Morbid”, but we choose not to use this term because it imparts a negative judgement.
We’ll be looking at a few based on research and anecdotal evidence.
Postural tachycardia syndrome
Causes fainting, “greying out” and/or dizziness due to a sudden increase in heart rate when standing up or moving around.
e.g. Ehlers-Danlos syndromes
Weaker Connective tissue in the body causing skin to stretch or joints to dislocate when moved.
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Estimated up to 70% of Autistic people*. Impairs: organisation, focus coping with stress, impulse control.
Difficulty with co-ordinating gross-motor movements and spatial awareness, May appear clumsy.
Mental Health Issues
May be a result of living in an unaccommodating/unsupportive environment. May be confused for Autistic traits.
Digestive (GI) Issues
Many Autistic people have Gastro- Intestinal issues and food sensitivities. Researchers have tried to find a cause for Autism in the gut micro-biome.
BARRIERS TO DIAGNOSIS
• Getting stressed/ flustered at medical appointments
• Lack of awareness of specialist services/support
• Panic attacks/history of medical abuse or institutional betrayal
• Providers not understanding Autism
• Minimising Autistic voices- calling us confused or intellectually disabled, beleiving stereotypes
• Being accused of non-compliance or non-motivation to seek help
• Waiting lists
• Communication issues
• Low Interoception
• Being gaslit about our experiences and sensations
How to Respond
Self- advocate and ude an advocate to book appointments and assert your rights to accommodations.
Be prepared to explain what
Autism is and isn’t to medical professionals, and what your needs are. We shouldn’t have to, but we do.
It can be very difficut when Allistics dismiss our needs by tellng us to “get over it” or “We’re all a bit like that”.
Allistics often don’t care and don’t have understanding/empathy for how things are different for us.
All illness are different for Autistic people and may be worse because of sensory needs and difficulty with unexpected change.
Meeting and talking with similar (Autistic People) can help us understand our experiences.
Being philosophical and accepting that adversity happens can help us cope with anxiety.
Understanding our co-occurring conditions and the needs we have can free us to experience Autistic joy.