Epilepsy can affect up to 43% of children whom also have ASD. There are several different types of seizures a child can experience, one being a “petit mal” seizure, his occurs when the child is playing and all of a sudden stops and stares off into space, he or she will seem to be absent for a short period of time. If you notice this happening, it is advised that you take your child to see a Doctor. One other type of seizure is that “grand mal”, which is the typical seizure that is visible to all. The last type of seizure is called a subclinical seizure and can only be detected by using EEG testing.
Gastrointestinal disorders are very common amongst children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Children may experience severe constipation or even diarrhea. These feelings of discomforts can bring on more stimulating and soothing behaviors such as rocking back and forth, hand banging, or aggression and self-injury. These are some reasons why the casein and gluten free diets may be a good idea for your child. If these problems become severe a Dr must be advised.
Here's a helpful guide for diets and nutrition from the Autism Society in America.
There is a condition called Pica, which you may see often in children with ASD. This is the tendency to put EVERYTHING in their mouths, whether it’s edible or not. There are many risks and hazards if your child displays these behaviors. Ingesting something that is toxic can lead to more serious illnesses and injuries. Eating paint chips, dirt, or other unsanitary objects is highly dangerous. It can also lead to the child choking or ingesting something that can cause intestinal damage. Pica will normally manifest in those that have poor nutrition or from low poverty environments, it can also be caused by iron deficiency or hookworm infection. Some to explain the causation of pica has also used sensory, physiological, cultural and psychosocial perspectives. How do you treat Pica? First you must figure out the cause of the behavior. There is Pica as a result of social attention. A strategy might be used of ignoring the person’s behavior or giving them the least possible attention. If their Pica is a result of obtaining a favorite item, a strategy may be used where the person is able to receive the item or activity without eating inedible items. The individual’s communication skills should increase so that they can relate what they want to another person without engaging in this behavior. If Pica is a way for a person to escape an activity or situation, the reason why the person wants to escape the activity should be examined and the person should be moved to a new situation. If Pica is motivated by sensory feedback, an alternative method of feeling that sensation should be provided. Other non-medication techniques might include other ways for oral stimulation such as gum. Foods such as popcorn have also been found helpful. These things can be placed in a “Pica Box” which should be easily accessible to the individual when they feel like engaging in Pica.
Other disorders that may accompany Autism are sleep dysfunctions. If your child experiences these sorts of behaviors or disorders it will disrupt everyone around the child as well, causing an increase in tension and problem behaviors. Here is a helpful toolkit from the AutismSpeaks.org website.
Many children will also experience sensory processing problems. Things that do not bother us may cause sensory overload to an autistic child. They have difficulty processing and integrating sensory information, or stimuli, such as sights, sounds smells, tastes and/or movement. They may experience seemingly ordinary stimuli as painful, unpleasant or confusing. Some of those with autism are hypersensitive to sounds or touch, a condition also known as sensory defensiveness. Others are under-responsive, or hyposensitive. An example of hypersensitivity would be the inability to tolerate wearing clothing, being touched or being in a room with normal lighting. Hyposensitivity can include failure to respond when one’s name is called. Many sensory processing problems can be addressed with occupational therapy and/or sensory integration therapy.