Autism And ADHD Linked To Early Or Premature Deaths?

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : February 21, 2022

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, is a psychological condition resulting in difficulty forming and maintaining social relationships.  It affects the overall physical, mental, and emotional health of the affected person.  They have difficulty in expressing themselves and difficulty communicating with others.

Autism And ADHD Linked To Early Or Premature Deaths

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common disorders in childhood and persists into adulthood also.  It affects a fewer number of adults also.  In ADHD, the affected individual has difficulty concentrating on a particular task, impulsiveness, restlessness, and hyperactivity.

Autism And ADHD Linked To Early Or Premature Deaths

Both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism are childhood developmental disorders, so if a child’s developmental milestones are delayed, parents must talk to the pediatricians and get developmental screening done.  The earlier the detection is, the more effective the treatment would be.

Though symptoms of autism and ADHD are similar, like problems focusing and communicating, an autistic person may have limited scope of interest, whereas a person affected with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may have difficulty paying concentration.

Both ADHD and autism can be difficult to treat, but if detected early, doctors may start therapy including behavior therapy, special education programs, family therapies, to treat the two conditions.  While attention deficit hyperactivity can be treated with medicines, there are no medications to treat autism. 

It is also possible that a child can have autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  A child diagnosed with both conditions has learning difficulties and poor social skills.

These people often suffer from low energy and feelings of worthlessness and uselessness.  A study shows that adults with autism are much more prone to psychiatric illnesses than the general population.

Newer research shows that people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism risk early or premature death.  People with ADHD or autism are twice as likely to die in childhood or midlife as the general population.

The death may be from either natural or unnatural causes, though unnatural deaths are more compared to natural deaths.  People with autism had chances of premature deaths from natural and unnatural causes, whereas, for patients with ADHD, unnatural causes of death were much more natural.

Unnatural deaths include death by suicide, accidents, intentional or unintentional drug overdose, or substance abuse.  Causes for such deaths include a myriad of mental health issues, neurological issues, anxiety, depression, eating and sleep disorders, unhealthy lifestyle, and obesity. 

Persons affected with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism lack social coping skills lack communication skills.  They suffer from impulsiveness and inattentiveness, resulting in unintentional injuries or even deaths.

Says Alycia Halladay, chief science officer for the Autism Science Foundation that though all unnatural deaths cannot be prevented, some deaths definitely can be prevented.  The parents, relatives, healthcare professionals must start acting upon this seriously.

The exact cause for why young people with autism or ADHD can have higher premature death risks still needs to be researched.  Many therapies, support programs, and counseling are directed at treating both autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

The parents and the doctors should take up this responsibility to talk to their children about their problems.  The parents should understand the warning signs and act accordingly.

Patience and vigilance are the two keywords for treating both autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders.  With newer medications and technologies being discovered, dietary restrictions, nutritious diet, physical activity in the form of exercises, leading an organized and disciplined life, both diseases can be kept under control and life expectancy can be improved. Such patients need to be reassured that most people with either one or both conditions can have an everyday, productive life.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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