Autistic people are often diagnosed with other co-occurring conditions, such as epilepsy, dyslexia or ADHD. Research also suggests that autistic people are more likely to develop physical and mental health concerns than the general population. It’s important to consider co-occurring conditions when thinking about the specific support a person needs.
These are some of the conditions that commonly co-occur with autism:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
People with ADHD may find it harder to concentrate than others and may get distracted easily. They can also be impulsive (i.e. act without thinking) and find it hard to sit still.
Avoidance is often a result of high anxiety. When autistic people avoid demands, this is an indication that the demand is causing anxiety to the person.
Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dyspraxia
Some autistic people are dyslexic, which means that they have difficulties with reading, writing and spelling, working memory and organisation. Others may have dyscalculia, which means a difficulty in understanding numbers or dyspraxia, which means they struggle with physical co-ordination.
Joint problems and hypermobility
Research has shown that there may be a link between autism and joint problems or hypermobility. Common symptoms can be flexible or painful joints, skin that stretches or bruises easily and diarrhoea or constipation that does not go away.
Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes frequent seizures. Symptoms of epilepsy can include shaking and collapsing, loss of awareness, stiffness and sensations such as tingling in the arms or legs.
Around 3 in 10 autistic people also have a learning disability. A person with a learning disability may find it hard to learn new skills, understand new or complicated information or look after themselves.
Mental health problems
Anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder are the most common mental health conditions that autistic people are diagnosed with.
If you think you or an autistic family member may have an associated condition, please speak to your GP.