Co-Occurring Conditions Common with Autism

In this episode of Parent to Parent, Kat Lee and Dr. Sarah Wayland discuss common co-occuring conditions with autism that have personally affected their own families, and how you can manage co-occuring conditions and help your family to not only move forward, but to thrive.

It’s important to remember that while autism makes your child more vulnerable to other differences, these differences are NOT autism. They must be treated separately. Don’t let any doctor tell you that these conditions are simply a part of autism.

Some conditions that often co-occur with autism include:


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Autistic burnout
  • Emotional intensity and lability (emotions that change frequently or rapidly)
  • Alexithymia (problems with identifying or understanding their own emotions)


  • Problems with attention
  • Problems with executive functioning
  • Struggles with spoken language
  • Struggles with academics
  • Slower processing speed
  • Prosopagnosia (face blindness)
  • Giftedness (with perfectionism and anxiety)


  • Sleep problems
  • Eating problems 
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Dental issues
  • Atypical reactions to medications
  • Neurological challenges, including issues with fine motor impairment (especially apraxia), gross motor impairment, hypotonia (decrease in muscle tone), seizures and migraines
  • Other health challenges, including asthma, allergies, Dysautonomia/POTS (a disorder that affects blood flow) and hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder

When you look at this list, it’s easy to see how it can get overwhelming for parents sometimes! But when you pay attention to your child, advocate for them when you’re seeking professional help, and apply RDI® principles, you and your family can manage!

Basic Tips for Managing Co-Occurring Conditions:

  • Watch and listen to your child. If something seems odd, look into it
  • Find doctors who really listen to you and your child
  • Remember: these co-occurring conditions are NOT autism. Don’t let doctors or other professionals tell you otherwise! However, treatment for these conditions may look different because of autism
  • Apply RDI® principles whenever you can – they can help with managing some of these issues
  • Remember: your child is a person! Not a bunch of diagnoses
  • Let others help, and ask for help when you need it
  • Take care of yourself – this can be really overwhelming

To learn more about common co-occurring conditions with autism and how to manage them and best help your child, watch the video below.




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