Sensory Issues Can Predict Future Abdominal Pain for Some With Autism

Stomach pains…
Gastrointestinal (GI) problems are common in children with autism. That is not an earth-shattering statement and I have blogged about that before. Studies have shown GI problems to be prevalent in 24-70 per cent of the autism population.

Why such a difference?
Those statistics are from what is a called cross-sectional study — that is like taking a photo of someone jumping. By looking at that photo, can you really tell how much time they spent in the air? No. That is the same logic for why those statistics vary so much — they are taking a snapshot in time. Interestingly, no longitudinal studies, a.k.a long-term observational studies, have been done on autism and GI issues until a great piece of research titled “One-year course and predictors of abdominal pain in children with autism spectrum disorders: The role of anxiety and sensory over-responsivity” was published in 2014.

Is there something better?
A longitudinal study provides repeated observations of the same individual. Why is that important? Because now changes in the same individual can be studied, potentially revealing a sequence of events. That is powerful stuff. Unfortunately, longitudinal studies take long amounts of time and it is difficult to keep track of people for extended periods. However, this longitudinal study investigating autism and GI problems could really provide key insight into the disease.

It gets better!
Fantastically, these researchers also wanted to include anxiety and sensory issues in their observational study. Why is that awesome? Anxiety has been found to be experienced in the autism population anywhere from 40-84 per cent. Sensory issues are now defined as a core symptom of autism. Sensory issues are more formally termed sensory over-responsivity and —> Read More