Having autism can sometimes mean enduring a litany of traumatic events, starting from a young age. And for many, those events may add up to severe and persistent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“We know that about 70 percent of kids with autism will have a comorbid psychiatric disorder,” says Connor Kerns, assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder are all known to be more common among autistic people than in the general population, but PTSD had largely been overlooked. Until a few years ago, only a few studies had delved into the problem, and most suggested that less than 3 percent of autistic people have PTSD, about the same rate as in typical children. If that were true, Kerns points out, PTSD would be one of the only psychiatric conditions that’s no more common in people with autism than in their typical peers.
One potential explanation, Kerns says, is that, like other psychiatric conditions, PTSD simply looks different in people with autism than it does in the general population.
How PTSD manifests in autistic people can also be unexpected, and can exacerbate autistic traits, such as regression of skills or communication, as well as stereotyped behaviors and speech. Based on these observations, Kerns and her collaborators plan to create autism-specific trauma assessments to test on a larger scale.
Read full, original post: At the intersection of autism and trauma