Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Is Autism Considered A Mental Disorder

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Who Is At Risk From Mental Disorders


Determinants of mental health and mental disorders include not only individual attributes such as the ability to manage one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviours and interactions with others, but also social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors such as national policies, social protection, standards of living, working conditions, and community support.

Stress, genetics, nutrition, perinatal infections and exposure to environmental hazards are also contributing factors to mental disorders.

Common Conditions Among People With Autism

While many people with autism are misdiagnosed with other types of mental illness, many are also appropriately diagnosed with both autism and mental illness. In fact, mental illness is more common among people with autism than it is among the general population.

The most common co-occurring mental illnesses for people with autism include depression and anxiety.

It’s not completely clear why this may be the case. One theory suggests that there is a genetic link between autism and mental illness. Another theory points to the extreme challenges of living in the modern world with autism. The fact is that for many people with autism, it is anxiety-provoking and depressing to attempt to overcome social, sensory, and/or intellectual challenges that are simply part of who they are.

In addition to mental illness, many children and adults with autism receive additional developmental diagnoses. While it can be argued in many cases that the symptoms are associated with autism, it is sometimes helpful to know that a child is both autistic and, for example, diagnosable with ADHD, learning disabilities, hyperlexia, Savant Syndrome, or another disorder.

A secondary diagnosis, while it may or may not be completely appropriate, can sometimes provide direction for therapy, academic support, and services. Hopefully, in doing so, this could correct any potential misdiagnoses moving forward.

Children With Autism At Increased Risk For Several Mental Health Conditions

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Caregiver-reported mental health conditions were prevalent among children with autism spectrum disorder in the United States from a young age, according to study results published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Though cumulative evidence from multiple sources suggests an increasing prevalence of in general population children, a current population-based estimate of in children with ASD is lacking,Connor M. Kerns, PhD, of the department of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and colleagues wrote.

To address this research gap, the investigators analyzed data of 42,283 caregivers of children aged 3 to 17 years who were included in the 2016 population-based National Survey of Childrens Health. They estimated prevalence of correlates of mental health conditions reported by caregivers among children with ASD and compared these with those of children with intellectual disability, children with special health care needs and all others, the latter of whom did not have any of the former conditions.

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Receiving Ssi Benefits For A Child With Autism

Social security for children with autism is designed to help parents with limited resources cover additional expenses that occur when caring for a disabled child with autism.

The SSI benefit is a monthly payment that helps parents of children with disabilities, and adults with disabilities, who have lower income and limited resources. The amount of the payment may differ between states because some states supplement the SSI for children with autism.

Eligibility for SSI disability benefits for a child with autism depends on the income and resources that are available to the child and other people living in the childs household. These income rules also apply if the child is away at school but still under the parents care and control.

Once a child is receiving SSI for autism, the SSA will review the childs medical condition to make sure that the disability criteria are still being met. This usually happens every three years. Parents are required to provide evidence of the childs limitations and proof that the child has been receiving medically necessary treatments.

When a child turns 18, the rules for receiving SSI change but the coverage can continue. In many cases, individuals who were not eligible for SSI before their 18th birthday become eligible because of income requirements.

Autism And Bipolar Disorder

Beacons Mental Health Infographics

People with bipolar disorder tend to alternate between a frenzied state known as mania and episodes of depression.

It is important to understand the symptoms of true bipolar disorder from those of autism by looking at when the symptoms appeared and how long they lasted. For example, a child with autism may be consistently high-energy and socially intrusive through childhood. As such, her tendency to talk to strangers and make inappropriate comments are likely part of her autism, and not a symptom of a manic mood swing.

Treatments: Some of the medications used to treat bipolar disorder can be problematic for some with autism who has difficulty recognizing and expressing feelings. A psychiatrist can provide additional medications that may be safer.

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Is Autism A Psychological Disorder

Fig 2

While some symptoms and effects may overlap, Autism and Psychological disorders are a different kettle of fish. Here is a quick comparison:

Table 1: Typical Characteristics present in Psychological Disorder but NOT in Autism

Note: While it is 4 times more likely for boys to be diagnosed with Autism, girls identified with Autism are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with co-existing mental disorders. Please refer to the article on autism in girls vs boys for more details.

Why Children Are Misdiagnosed

Autism is not always a child’s first diagnosis, particularly if he or she is verbal and of average intelligence. Not infrequently, children who wind up with an autism diagnosis receive a range of other diagnoses firstincluding, in some cases, other types of mental disorders.

There is a simple reason for these misdiagnoses: a child who is bright and verbal may not be evaluated for autism. As a result, the child’s symptoms are viewed not as a set of related challenges, but as individual issues that could potentially be signs of another mental illness. There are a number of behaviors in autism and other mental illnesses that may share characteristics and lead to an erroneous diagnosis.

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Asd And Mental Health

Families of children with ASD may face other challenges and stressors. This can have a big impact on your child and family, but treatment can help a great deal.

Why is it hard to diagnose mental illness in children with ASD?

  • Symptoms of one disorder can look like another disorder
  • Symptoms of one disorder can hide symptoms of another disorder
  • Mental health symptoms in ASD may look different than they do in most people
  • It may be difficult to tell what a child is feeling
  • They may not be able to tell you how they feel
  • Other people may misread the childs symptoms
  • The child may not think that something is wrong
  • There are only a few guidelines and tests that help to diagnose other mental illnesses in children with ASD

An important note on ASD studies

Many studies on mental health and ASD include children with high-functioning autism. These children do not have as many challenges with cognitive or intellectual abilities. There are fewer studies on the mental health of children who are considered lower functioning or more affected by ASD symptoms. These children may also have mental illness and help is available for them. But, it is important to know that some studies may not include certain groups of children.

What Are The Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

A Lil Lecture Autism Is Not A Mental Illness 1

Signs of ASD range from mild to severely disabling, and every person is different. The following signs are considered to be red flags that indicate your young child may be at risk for autism. If your child shows any of the following signs, please get in touch with your childs healthcare provider to discuss a referral for an autism evaluation.

The signs include the following:

  • Your child doesnt respond to their name being called at all or responds inconsistently.
  • Your child doesnt smile widely or make warm, joyful expressions by the age of 6 months.
  • Your child doesnt engage in smiling, making sounds and making faces with you or other people by the age of 9 months.
  • Your child doesnt babble by 12 months.
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as showing, pointing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
  • No words by 16 months.
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases by 24 months.
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.

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Why Is It Important We Know The Difference Between Autism And Mental Health Conditions

It feels odd that I should have to point out why its important that we stop calling autism a mental health condition. After all, wrong is wrong and when you look at just how many differences there are between the two, thats a whole lot of wrong people are willing to be. However, when you call autism a mental health condition, its not just accuracy which is at stake, but also damage that could be done to our community,

This isnt because its bad to be considered as having a mental health condition, its just that mental health conditions dont have much positivity going for them either. This is in stark contrast to autism, where many in our community see our alternatively wired minds as something to be proud of a view which becomes pretty hard to promote with connotations of the latter.

But the challenges that are caused by these connections arent only ones of perception and identity, as a recent enquiry into the legislation like the Mental Health Act of 1983 have found that, by classifying autism as a mental health condition, members of our community are opened up to the possibility of improper sectioning in which autistic people have ripped away from the familiar and inappropriately accommodated, whilst a solution to a problem that does not exist is sourced.

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What Treatments Are Effective For Serious Mental Illness

Treatment choices for serious mental illness and any mental health conditions vary from person to person. Even people with the same diagnosis have different experiences, needs, goals and objectives for treatment. There is no one size fits all treatment.

Choosing the right mix of treatments and supports is an important step in the recovery process. When individuals are actively involved in designing their own treatment plan including defining recovery and wellness goals it can enhance the experience of treatment and improve outcomes.

There are many tools and treatments that may be part of a well-rounded recovery plan for SMI.

By Sharon Longo, BA

Is autism a disability? If its not a disability, what is autism? Is it a disorder? Or is it simply a different way of responding to people and the world around us? These are questions many parents ask, as well as people on the spectrum themselves. Unfortunately, the answers are far from straightforward.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , autism spectrum disorder is defined as a developmental disability while the National Institute of Mental Health, states that ASD is a developmental disorder.

Meanwhile, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has 13 categories for disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder is number three on the list, calling it a developmental disability that affects social and communication skills but can also have an impact on behavior.

Read Also: What Does It Mean To Be Mildly Autistic

Mental Illness Vs Developmental Disorder

Mental illnesses are health conditions that involve changes in mood, emotion, thinking, and behaving. They are associated with mental distress and problems with social functioning. Around one in five adults in the United States has some form of mental illness at any given time, according to the American Psychiatric Association.1 The most common mental illnesses are anxiety and depression. Mental illness can occur at any age and is treatable with medication, therapy, or a combination of medication and therapy.

One in Five Adults Have a Form of Mental Disorder

Developmental disorders like autism differ from mental illness in several important ways. Developmental disorders generally appear at birth or during childhood and are diagnosed by the age of 18. While mental illness doesnt typically interfere with cognitive abilities, a developmental disorder may impact a persons ability to learn or to understand certain thoughts. Unlike mental illness, which can be successfully treated, developmental disorders are lifelong disabilities.

Autism is 4 Times More Common in Boys Than Girls

How Autism Spectrum Disorder Is Diagnosed And Treated

Autistic Mental Health


Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed based on a childs development and behavior, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.3 It can be detected as early as 18 months, although most children arent diagnosed until after the age of four. The sooner its diagnosed, the better the developmental outcomes.

While theres no cure for ASD, early intervention services available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act can dramatically improve a childs development, including walking, talking, and interacting socially.


Treatment for autism spectrum disorder is highly individualized and involves a combination of therapies, services, and support. Although there are no medications that can treat the core symptoms of autism, medication may be used to improve functioning by helping individuals manage issues like seizures, depression, high energy levels, or difficulty focusing.

For the most part, treating ASD involves non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as:

Speech Therapy

Offers emotional support and resources to people with autism and their families

Other interventions may include intensive parent training programs, social skills groups, and play-based skills groups.

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How Does Asd Affect Communication

The word autism has its origin in the Greek word autos, which means self. Children with ASD are often self-absorbed and seem to exist in a private world in which they have limited ability to successfully communicate and interact with others. Children with ASD may have difficulty developing language skills and understanding what others say to them. They also often have difficulty communicating nonverbally, such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.

The ability of children with ASD to communicate and use language depends on their intellectual and social development. Some children with ASD may not be able to communicate using speech or language, and some may have very limited speaking skills. Others may have rich vocabularies and be able to talk about specific subjects in great detail. Many have problems with the meaning and rhythm of words and sentences. They also may be unable to understand body language and the meanings of different vocal tones. Taken together, these difficulties affect the ability of children with ASD to interact with others, especially people their own age.

Below are some patterns of language use and behaviors that are often found in children with ASD.

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Is Autism Considered A Mental Illness

Is autism considered a mental illness?

No, though it is commonly referred to as a ‘mental disorder’.

Agreed its a disorder, not an illness. Don’t know the exact explanation, though.

Location: occupied 313

In the US, it is considered a developmental disability, meaning you had this from birth. It was always present, maybe not recognize early on, but still there. There are no know cures for it.It is placed in the same category as blindness and deaf. There is really nothing that will get these function back to *normal*.Mental illness may come and go. There is medications can get you back to a normal/absence of symptoms.The important part, my husband’s company only had to hold his job for 6 months for a mental illness diagnosis. They could not fire him for a developmental disability, but punted him to early retirement.

Yes it is. It’s classified in the official “bible” of brain disorders, the DSM.

Location: Pacific Northwest

I thought it was considered a learning disability, developmental disability, neurological disorder, mental problem, metal health issue, a disorder. I have seen autism under these categories.

Most likely a developmental disorder.

It’s not an illness, but people will think that it is.

or treatable

Posts: 4,138

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Is Autism A Cognitive Disorder

By Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Cognitive disorders are impairments to cognitive function to a degree where normal functioning is not possible without treatment. The question of whether autism spectrum disorders fit in this category will be considered in this article.

Many in the autism community feel offended by the use of the word disorder. For others it remains important as the words definition inevitably means autism is taken seriously by the medical community.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Comorbidity

Mental Disorders: Causes Of Autism and How is it Treated With Dr. Robert Meillio

Research indicates that those who have ASD also have a significantly increased risk in developing a mental health disorder, which is referred to as a comorbid or co-occurring disorder. Anxiety and mood disorders are common co-occurring disorders that those with ASD generally develop. Co-occurring conditions often exacerbate core ASD symptoms. For instance, anxiety or depression symptoms can aggravate social deficits, communicative difficulties, repetitive behaviors, or cognitive and behavioral perseverations.

Examples of anxiety and mood disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder , anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder .

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Is Autism A Mental Illness

Autism in children was first described in 1943 by Leo Kanner. Although today it is considered that there are several forms of autism, initially this pathology was isolated within the childhood psychoses.

Currently, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders refers to autism as a pervasive developmental disorder, not a mental illness. This disorder is characterized by severe developmental impairments in the following three areas: verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and behaviors, and interests and activities that are restricted and stereotyped.

Childhood psychosis or mental retardation?

Pervasive Developmental Disorders include Autism, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Aspergers Syndrome, and non-specific PDD. These disorders are usually associated with mental retardation. In fact, this is one of the criteria that led to PDD no longer being considered a mental illness since it affected intelligence. It is estimated that nearly 75% of children with autistic disorder also suffer from moderate mental retardation . In fact, before 1981, the above-mentioned disorders were part of childhood psychoses .

PDDs are sometimes accompanied by medical conditions, particularly chromosomal abnormalities, congenital infectious diseases, and structural lesions of the central nervous system. In response to these medical conditions, certain biological abnormalities may surface such as serotonin deficiency, epilepsy, and many others.

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