There are several medical conditions which occur more frequently in people with autism than in the general population. Because of the increased risk, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself if your child has autism or other developmental delays.
Autistic Children and IQ Tests
If your child’s intelligence is being assessed, ask for an IQ test that doesn’t require language abilities, such as the Test for Nonverbal Intelligence (TONI).
Mental Retardation – Some children on the autism spectrum may suffer from mental retardation. While it is commonly stated that up to 75% of autistic individuals are cognitively impaired, new studies are challenging this statistic. This includes the latest autism population survey from the Centers for Disease Control. One of the reasons that mental retardation may be over-reported in autistic kids is that traditional IQ tests require strong verbal skills. Verbally-based tests don’t accurately measure intelligence in autistic children with speech problems. For further info: Utah Dept. of Health
- Seizures – One in four autistic children develop epileptic seizures, typically during adolescence. It is believed that the seizures are triggered by hormonal changes. The seizures may be noticeable, with clear symptoms such as convulsions, blacking out, or odd body movements. However for some, the seizures are not quite so obvious. In these cases, tantrums, self-injury, little academic progress during the teen years, or a loss of previously-acquired behavioral skills may be subtle signs of a subclinical seizure disorder. For further info: Epilepsy Ontario
- Fragile X Syndrome – Children with autism are at a higher risk for the genetic disorder Fragile X syndrome. Fragile X syndrome is the most common cause of mental retardation and results from a defect on the X chromosome. The syndrome affects approximately 2-5% of autistic individuals. For further info: The National Fragile X Foundation
- Tuberous Sclerosis – Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic disorder that causes benign tumors to grow in many different organs, including the brain, eyes, heart, lungs, and skin. Around 3-4% of children with autistic disorder also have tuberous sclerosis. For further info: Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance
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