Studies conducted on patients suffering from autism spectrum disorder have revealed some startling statistics. It emerged that those with autism have a relatively shorter life expectancy. The two specific studies threw up data that reflected the fact that autistic patients died at an earlier age as compared to the general population.
Some surprising revelations
A study, the findings of which were highly publicized in the American Journal of Public Health in April 2017 showed some interesting data. It found that the life expectancy among patients suffering from ASD in the United States was 36 years old. This is in stark contrast to the normal life expectancy of 76 years. The study also concluded that people afflicted with ASD were 40 times more likely to die due to a range of injuries. About 28 per cent of ASD patients die owing to an injury. These injuries are usually attributed to drowning, suffocation and asphyxiation. The cases of drowning were observed primarily in the 5-7 age range. Since ASD patients do have a tendency to wander or get lost, swim lessons are essential. Moreover equipping them with GPS trackers ensures that they can be tracked down.
Other risk factors among ASD patients
Another study was carried out and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in January this year. The Swedish study mimicked the results of the above study but also explored other causes that led to an early death in ASD patients. Thus, it showed that those who had ASD and a cognitive disability or even a learning disability had a life expectancy of 39.5 as compared to 70 years in the general population. Those who had ASD but no learning disability showed a better life expectancy at 58 years. The study established that the leading causes of death were suicide, epilepsy and heart disease. The suicide rate among the studied population was 9 times higher compared to normal people. Recent studies have focused on the suicidal tendency among autistic patients. However, further research could suggest a possible resolution to the problem once the causes have been established. Furthermore, seizures were evident in 20 to 40 per cent of those afflicted with ASD.
In the context of these recent findings, it is apparent that parents who have an autistic child must essentially safeguard against potential disasters. Parents must ensure to teach water safety ad should also invest in a GPS tracker which will help in case the child wanders off. To combat suicidal tendencies, it would be advisable to take the help of a counselor early on so that mental issues can be nipped in the bud. Mental conditions like anxiety, depression, tantrums and aggression should not be shrugged off and should be treated accordingly.