Section 5: Know about conditions that commonly co-occur with autism
Q15: Explain the following conditions that may co-occur with autism: (5.1)
a) Mental ill health
It is likely that someone with ASC will also experience ill mental health due to the complexities that come along with it. Difficulty communicating can cause issues with being understood, and others may feel uncomfortable or become frustrated speaking to an individual who may struggle with communication or may be non-verbal, which can lead to a person becoming more and more
reserved from others to which they may struggle to socialise causing anxiety. Other mental health illnesses, such as stress and depression may occur due to being seen as ‘different’ by others, potentially causing peers to refrain from being friends and bully individuals due to misunderstanding the condition.
b) Learning disability
A learning disability may also occur beside ASC. This can be due to issues carrying out functional skills, such as reading and maths. The individual may struggle to understand or recall symbols or words. This can mean the individual may need additional support at school, by means of a teaching assistant or support staff during exams or reading activities. They may also struggle in terms of personal care as some may be very detailed in getting dressed and keeping clean, although others may struggle with
this and need assistance and support.

Q16: Describe three examples of other conditions that may co-occur with autism. (5.2)

Attention Deficit Hyperacitvity Disorder is known for occurring alongside autism. ADHD can affect the individual’s attention span, causing them to lose focus on specific things and be unable to concentrate on particular things. This can cause individuals to have impulsive behaviours, behave inappropriately for their age, and tend to be less inhibited. It is unknown what causes ADHD but theorists suggest it is a manifestation of poor behaviours.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is also common to occur with autism. As an anxiety disorder, which varies in its affect depending on the person, it can cause the individual to also suffer ill-mental health and cause further stress alongside the stresses of autism. It affects daily life, leaving people with obsessive or impulsive behaviours, like repetitive behaviours. Those with OCD understand the irrationality within their impulses, however, find it difficult to manage them.
Epilepsy is a condition that interferes with normal brain function, causing seizures. It has been noticed that a diagnosis of autism can cause an increased risk for epilepsy and epileptic seizures. It is not understood why this happens, but can be suggested that since they are both related to cognitive delays and behavioural problems, they can co-exist.

Q17: Describe the concerns that can arise from the co-occurring conditions described in Q16. (5.3)
ADHD brings a few concerns that arise from being diagnosed with both autism and ADHD. It can make it difficult for individuals with both diagnoses to focus and maintain their attention on a particular thing, causing issues at home and in the classroom, almost making it appear like behaviour that challenges.
OCD can cause issues when diagnosed alongside autism, such as causing obsessive and repetitive behaviour, if the person already does not have this, which can lead to ill-mental health with anxiety and distress. It can also interfere with their daily life, causing them to struggle completing daily tasks and create fears of things if the rituals or obsessive behaviours have not taken place.
Alongside autism, Epilepsy can also cause the individual to have uncontrolled jerking movements, have more ‘absences’ which is where the individual’s eyes may roll back and they may not be available to the room for a short period of time and they may have contractions of the chest muscles as well as breathing difficulties which could cause further problems down the line.