Rigid-Compulsive Behaviors are Associated with Mixed Bowel Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Based on clinical experience, we hypothesized that rigid-compulsive behaviors are associated with severe constipation and co-occurring diarrhea or underwear staining in children with autism spectrum disorder.
Using data from the Autism Treatment Network, we evaluated the association between these gastrointestinal symptoms and measures of rigid compulsive behavior in children ages 2-17.
Following statistical correction, four of five primary measures were significantly associated with constipation and diarrhea or underwear staining, including parental report of repetitive behavior, parental report of compulsive behavior, clinician diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and report of rituals observed on the autism diagnostic observation schedule.
This association could point to a causal connection between these symptoms or to a common biological pathway that impacts both gut and brain.
Further Readings of Interest
Autism Study Links Bowel Symptoms and Rigid, Repetitive Behaviors
“In recent years, research has supported parent reports that many children with autism struggle with chronic constipation. A new study goes one step further and associates severe constipation in children with autism with rigid and repetitive behaviors. It appears online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
The researchers delved into the wealth of anonymous information provided by families who voluntarily participate in the patient registry of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (AS-ATN). (Read more about this network of 17 autism-focused medical centers here.)
Specifically, they looked at children who experience severe constipation that alternates with periods of diarrhea or stool leakage – a pattern often seen by gastroenterologists who care for patients with autism. The investigators found that children with these GI symptoms were more likely to have difficulties with repetitive or compulsive behaviors, as reported by their parents. This was in comparison to children with autism but no chronic constipation.”
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