How autism can influence your child’s health

Autism is a difficult developmental disorder to manage. And sometimes, children with autism also have co-existing health problems. You can count on the caring physicians and nurses at Los Robles Regional Medical Center to direct your family to the resources you need. Your child may also be referred to a specialist at our hospital.

Sleep disorders
One problem many parents encounter is the difficulty convincing a child with autism to stay in bed and go to sleep. Some parents have to bring their child back to bed multiple times each night. Some children with autism experience frequent nighttime awakenings, or they awaken far too early in the morning.

A child’s sleep disorder can affect the entire family’s health. For both the child and the other family members, sleep deprivation can result in:

  • Poor concentration
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Decline in immune function
  • Poor judgment

Additionally, children with autism who are sleep deprived are more likely to display hyperactivity, aggressive behaviors and inattentiveness.

Gastrointestinal disorders
A diagnosis of gastrointestinal problems often goes hand-in-hand with an autism diagnosis. Children with autism are more likely to suffer from the following:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Food sensitivities

In addition, many children with autism are extremely selective eaters. Some of them will only consume a very limited list of foods.

Picky eating can result in nutritional deficiencies, which may worsen gastrointestinal symptoms. A deficiency of fiber in a child’s diet , for example, can exacerbate chronic constipation.

Anxiety disorders
Every child deserves to have a happy and healthy childhood. But many children with autism suffer from anxiety. Some common anxiety problems include:

  • Social phobia
  • Excessive worry
  • Separation anxiety
  • Extreme phobias
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

Behavioral interventions can help children with anxiety disorders learn how to manage their symptoms.

At every stage of life, Los Robles Regional Medical Center is your family’s partner in health. From our Emergency Room to our pediatrics services, we focus on providing superior, family-centered care that improves quality of life. Call a registered nurse in Thousand Oaks at (877) 888-5746 to request a physician referral.

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