Do Autistic Adults Have More Health Problems?
- 90% more likely to have received treatment for sleep disorders;
- 70% more likely to be overweight;
- 50% more likely to have diabetes;
- 42% more likely to have high blood pressure;
- 24% more likely to have gastro-intestinal troubles.
This list of medical issues is similar to the list of issued faces by children on the spectrum, but the order is somewhat different. Kids have more GI trouble, while diabetes usually appears later in life. Overall, the study shows that the problems that plague many of us as kids are lifelong.
- Autistic adults were 433% more likely to have attempted suicide;
- 123% more likely to have been treated for depression;
- 117% more likely to have been treated for anxiety.
This also follows the pattern we see established in childhood and teen surveys. Autistics may grow up to be more functional, and we may get along better. But we retain a disadvantage in overall health. The 433% difference in suicide attempts is particularly sad and troubling.
John Elder Robison is an autistic adult and advocate for people with neurological differences. He's the author of Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, Raising Cubby, and the forthcoming Switched On. He's co-founder of the TCS Auto Program school and Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William & Mary.