Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Disease
Gastrointestinal disorders and associated symptoms are commonly reported in children with autism spectrum disorders.
Many children do not present obvious symptoms until they are older, and because of deficits in communication and the frequently observed muting of normal responses to painful stimuli, gastrointestinal disease in many autistic children are completely overlooked.
GI symptoms in autistic children include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal distention (need link to photos here)
- Abnormal posturing (need link to photos)
- Constipation (defined as infrequent stool or overly hard stool)
- Diarrhea (often described as mushy or grainy, not watery) (link to stool photo)
- Failure to thrive
- Feeding problems
- Malodorous stool
- Undigested food in stool
- Straining to pass stool that is not overly hard
- Gastroesophageal Reflux
Patients with ASDs and gastrointestinal disorders also often exhibit problem behaviors such as self-injury and aggression, food refusal, disturbed sleeping patterns and irritability. These behaviors can be the primary and only indication of the underlying gastrointestinal disease because many patients with ASD are not able to verbalize their experience of abdominal pain or discomfort.
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