IACC Presentation by Lisa Croen: Psychiatric and Medical Conditions Among Adults with ASD

20 Nov

The last meeting of the previous Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) was a workshop on under recognized co-occurring conditions in ASD. One of the speakers was Lisa Croen of Kaiser Permanente. She spoke about psychiatric and medical conditions among adults with ASD. Much of this work (and more) was presented as a webinar at SFARI. This work was also presented at IMFAR.

If you can find the time to watch the video (it’s 17 minutes long), it’s well worth it. This is the sort of work we just haven’t seen before now–a look at medical needs of autistic adults. If you don’t have that time, here are a few highlights.

First consider the sort of medical conditions that get a lot of attention in the pediatric population: Sleep, GI and immune. For the pediatric population, one can watch the presentation by the Lewin group that was also given at the IACC workshop: IACC Co-occurring conditions workshop: Lewin Group presentation on co-occurring conditions in autistic children in the U.S..

In adults, GI, sleep and immune conditions are found more often in the autistic population than in the general population. Moderately more often. Interestingly, thyroid conditions are 2.5 times more common (compare this to GI disorders, which are 1.3 times more common).

croen 3

By contrast, psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression and suicide attempts are even more common in the autistic population. Schizophrenia is 22 times more common.

croen 1

Neurologic conditions are also more common in the autistic population. Parkinson’s is 32 times more common in autistics. Dementia is 4.4 times more common.

croen 2

This is the sort of work I’ve been calling for since even before I was appointed to the IACC. The autism parent community and the research community spends a lot of time talking about learning about kids and getting tools into the hands of pediatricians. But what about adults? We know that epilepsy often has an onset about puberty for autistic kids. We know that for another developmental disability, Down Syndrome, early onset dementia is relatively common. But what is going on right now with adults? What is do we, parents and autistics, have to plan around for the future?

If I recall correctly, the last comment I made as a member of the IACC had to do with this study.

Those are exactly the kind of things that frankly scare the heck out of me and I would like to know more about. And know there’s something on the horizon I need to know about and if there is a way to intervene with adults.

By Matt Carey

4 Responses to “IACC Presentation by Lisa Croen: Psychiatric and Medical Conditions Among Adults with ASD”

  1. Seth Bittker November 26, 2014 at 18:29 #

    I am surprised that the comorbidity for autoimmune diseases and autism are so low. Mostafa et al found that 34% of kids with autism had anti-ds-DNA antibodies and 25% had ANA antibodies compared respectively with 4% and 2% of controls. Admittedly this was a Saudi population. Here is a link for the study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24837704. Anti-ds-DNA antibodies are often used for diagnosing lupus. Concern about lupus generally is not on the radar of most practitioners treating kids with autism. So I would guess that lupus and more generally auto-immune comorbidity is significantly under diagnosed among those with autism.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) November 27, 2014 at 18:07 #

      A lot of people seem surprised by the fact that the actual records show that the prevalence of some conditions (GI, metabolic, autoimmune, etc.) are much less than the perception given online.


  1. Movie review: Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis | Left Brain Right Brain - February 12, 2015

    […] Even with the possibility of adverse reactions to psychiatric medication, Mr. Wakefield would do well to recall that autistics can have psychiatric conditions. Mr. Wakefield is in the community that is quick to tell us that autistics often have comorbid conditions. But rarely does this community point out that a large fraction of comorbid conditions are psychiatric. This was explored by the Lewin Group for children. And by Lisa Croen’s team for adults. […]

  2. adult aspie info | aspieinfo - March 13, 2015

    […] https://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2014/11/20/iacc-presentation-by-lisa-croen-psychiatric-and-medical-… […]

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