PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– The number of children being diagnosed with autism continues to grow – 1 in 68 children in the U.S. have the disorder.
A new report has been released on how and why people with autism often struggle with other health conditions.
Thirteen-year-old Colby Rosenblatt often has a hard time falling, and staying asleep.
“It has gotten progressively worse, couldn’t get him to bed because he was scared to be alone,” said mother Stephanie Udell-Rosenblatt.
More than half of people with autism, like Colby, have sleep disturbances.
A new report from Autism Speaks also shows conditions such as epilepsy and gastrointestinal problems tend to go hand in hand with the disorder.
“Co-occurring conditions may be due to just sort of the interplay of autism and the environment. Others are definitely related though to biology,” said Dr. Thomas Frazier, Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks.
While children with autism are much more likely to have chronic GI issues, the report reveals there is little evidence that special diets including gluten-free help autism symptoms.
Dr. Thomas Frazier says mental health issues such as anxiety and ADHD are also common.
“We have to really think about them not as just having autism but autism and whatever else is going on for them,” said Frazier. “Addressing those other things can make a huge difference in their lives.”
For kids like Colby, doctors say it’s important to exercise, limit screen time and have a good bedtime routine. Colby’s parents say a sleep tent helps.
The report confirms what many families and doctors have experienced, it shows 30 to 60 percent of people with autism have symptoms of ADHD.