Autism Spectrum Disorder (In Children and Adults)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideAutism Signs in Children: What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Signs in Children: What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Can diet and supplements play a role in the treatment of autism?

A number of dietary supplements are often given to persons with autism. Examples of such interventions include omega-3 fatty acids. While a significant percentage of people with autism are given dietary supplements as part of treatment, there is insufficient research to determine whether or not such interventions are helpful or harmful.

What is the prognosis for children and adults with autism?

Persons with autism seem to have a higher mortality rate at younger ages compared to average individuals. This is particularly true for mortality that is related to seizures or infection. It is, therefore, important for the autistic population to receive good medical care from health care professionals who have knowledge and experience in addressing their unique medical needs.

Due to a number of potential factors, autistic persons tend to be vulnerable to nutritional problems. Specifically, factors like variations in appetite, refusal of many foods, food allergies, and side effects to some medications can disproportionately impact the food intake, and therefore the nutritional status of this population. Individuals with autism have been found to be vulnerable to respiratory problems as well, which results in this population having more doctors' visits than people who do not have autism. As people with autism also are vulnerable to emotional struggles like anxiety, depression, and attention problems, the help of mental health professionals should be sought when appropriate.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/5/2015

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