Hi there! Is there a high chance of autism being comorbid with auto-immune disorders/diseases? My dad has a bunch of auto-immune stuff (and I’ve inherited most of it) and I have endometriosis. Is there a correlation between a parent with auto-immune issues and a child with autism? I’m rambling, but hope that made sense…

candidlyautistic:

Right, so! This is absolutely a great question, because, short answer to what you are asking is yes, there is an increased comorbidity of autoimmune disorders in autistics, in addition to the better known increased comorbidity of connective tissue disorders.

Long answer!

To be clear, what we are actually answering is whether or not there is an increased comorbidity of autoimmune disorders with autism. Comorbid means, more or less, “occurring with” – so anything that isn’t a part of autism is comorbid with it. A cold, for example, is a comorbidity because it is diagnosed based on its own criteria, in addition to and not because of the autism.

At least, that is what it means medically. In psych “comorbid” can mean occuring with or because of. At least, that’s how it is used. I tend to stick with the medical definition because when we talk about ASD with autoimmune, we’re talking about medical stuff.

Anyhow, there is a known correlation between increased rates of autoimmune disorders and autism spectrum disorder. I know specifically that Rheumatoid Arthritis has been studied in parents of autistics, and that there is a correlation there, too, which isn’t really surprising to me because parents are often times “sub clinical” – that, is they have autistic traits, often including the common comorbidites, but don’t meet the clinical definition of ASD.

I’ve actually wondered if the whole thing with autistics and having bowel issues is because we’re seeing a spike in things like Chron’s Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder.

Endo, of course, is a big one. More and more science is leaning towards it being an autoimmune disorder, and anecdotally at least it seems common – at least in the circles I run in, I don’t know many autistic people with a uterus that don’t have Endo or endo-like symptoms. Of course, I have rheumatoid arthritis, which is also autoimmune. Chron’s is common, as is Lupus, though not quite as much as the others.

TBH, I’m of the opinion that every autistic that has physical symptoms outside the ASD box that can be explained reasonably with an autoimmune disorder, they should consider seeing a rheumatologist – those would be the specialists that deal with autoimmune stuff.

Thanks for asking! If you have questions about a specific autoimmune disorder, feel free to send another ask. I have access to my school’s library database from home, and I am happy to use it for quick searches to get and idea of the basics.

Cheers!

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