Do Gastrointestinal Issues Affect ASD Kids?

Position:PROBLEM BEHAVIOR - Autism spectrum disorder

For years, researchers have documented both gastrointestinal issues and problematic behaviors, such as aggression, in many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Researchers from the University of Missouri, Columbia, now have found that both internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors might indicate gastrointestinal distress in children and adolescents with autism.

Bradley Ferguson, assistant research professor in the Departments of Health Psychology and at the Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, examined records from 340 children and adolescents with autism who are patients at the Thompson Center. Ferguson found that 65% of them experienced constipation: nearly half, stomach pain; 29%, diarrhea; and 23%, nausea. Furthermore, some of these gastrointestinal symptoms were associated with different behaviors, such as anxiety and aggression.

"We are starting to better understand how gastrointestinal issues coincide with problem behaviors in ASD. For example, we found that individuals with autism and co-occurring nausea are about 11% more likely to display aggressive behaviors. Therefore, addressing the nausea might alleviate the aggressive behaviors, which will ultimately increase the quality of life for patients as well as...

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