Conditions and Syndromes Related to or Commonly Occurring Alongside Autism

Child This page contains information about other conditions and syndromes (comorbidities) which occur in autistic people.

The fact that someone is autistic does not mean they will invariably have any of these conditions, some of which are extremely rare. It's just more likely.


Attention deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD)

Normally used to describe children who have three main kinds of problems:

  • overactive behaviour (hyperactivity)
  • impulsive behaviour
  • difficulty in paying attention

More information about ADHD

Autoimmune diseases

Collection of conditions in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues, identifying them as foreign substances.

More information about impaired immunity


Marked motor abnormalities including catalepsy, stupor, apparently purposeless agitation not influenced by external stimuli, apparent motiveless resistance to instructions or attempts to be moved, mutism, stereotyped movements, echolalia and echopraxia.

More information about catatonia

Cerebral Lipidosis, AKA Cerebral Sphingolipidosis

Any of a group of inherited diseases characterized by progressive spastic paralysis, blindness, convulsions and learning disabilities. Caused by abnormal phospholipid metabolism.

Cornelia de Lange syndrome, CdLS

A rare condition which includes characteristic physical features and developmental abnormalities. Children with CdLS are small and most have abnormalities of the arm. They are also more likely to have a learning disability and to have seizures.

Cri du Chat syndrome

Also known as cat cry syndrome or Lejeune syndrome.

A rare condition which includes characteristic physical features and developmental abnormalities. Children with Cri du Chat syndrome are small, and often have malformed ears, with partial fusing of fingers or toes. They frequently have motor problems and learning disabilities. Younger children make characteristic high-pitched mewing cries like a cat although this usually disappears over time.

Crohn's disease

Inflammatory condition affecting the digestive tract which can occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus, but it usually occurs in the small or large intestine and inflammation extends throughout the whole thickness of the intestinal wall.

More about gastro-intestinal problems

Disorder of attention, motor co-ordination and perception (DAMP)

Used when the person has a combination of these problems. The perceptual problem may, for example, be dyslexia.


Abnormal movements of the muscles resulting from a disorder of the brain. Movements are uncoordinated and involuntary and occur in facial as well as limb muscles.


Significant difficulty with or impairment in reading ability, when reading is compared with other aspects of psychological functioning.

Dyspraxia, also known as Developmental co-ordination disorder or Motor coordination disorder

Impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement with associated problems of language, perception and thought. People with dyspraxia may appear clumsy.

Encephalitis-induced brain damage

Encephalitis is inflammation (swelling) of the brain tissue. It is caused either by infection, usually viral, or by an autoimmune disease. If it is severe it can cause brain damage.


Epilepsy is a brain disorder involving recurrent seizures. Seizures are sudden changes in behaviour due to an excessive electrical activity in the brain.

More information about epilepsy

Fragile X syndrome

Inherited condition in which a a defect in one gene on the X Chromosome may cause a learning disability. It is named after the "fragile" site on the X-chromosome.

More information about fragile x syndrome

Hyperkinetic disorder AKA Hyperkinesis

Excessive motor activity, voluntary or otherwise.

More information about ADHD


Abnormally acute sense of hearing.

More information about hearing and sound sensitivity

Inflammatory bowel diseases

These are chronic inflammatory diseases that may occur in any part of the gut.

More about gastro-intestinal problems

Learning Disability, AKA mental retardation, intellectual disability

Permanent condition, arising during childhood or adolescence, characterised by a state of incomplete development of mind that includes significant impairments of intelligence and social functioning.

More information about intellectual ability

Lesch Nyhan syndrome

Lesch-Nyhan syndrome (LNS) is a rare, inherited disorder caused by a deficiency of the enzyme hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT). It causes hyperuricaemia (high serum levels of uric acid). People with this syndrome are prone to have uric acid kidney stones and learning disabilities.

Miller Dieker syndrome

Neural migration disorder in which the convolutions of the cerebral cortex are either completely absent or reduced in number, giving the brain surface a smooth appearance. Problems include developmental delay, microcephaly and seizures.

Mobius syndrome

Rare birth defect caused by the absence or underdevelopment of the cranial nerves, which control eye movements and facial expression.

Muscular dystrophy

Group of disorders characterized by progressive muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue. More common in people with autism.

Non-verbal learning disorder (NVLD), AKA Right hemisphere learning disorder

Study of the criteria for this condition shows that it covers people with the social behaviour pattern of Asperger syndrome, who also have problems with the non-verbal skills of arithmetic and some visuo-spatial skills.

PANDAS (Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus.)

This is a hypothesis that when some children are exposed to the common group-A beta-haemolytic streptococcal bacteria, which occur in the throat, they develop antibodies which attack the basal ganglia in the brain as well as those bacteria.

Pathological demand avoidance (PDA)

Condition in which individuals resist and avoid the ordinary demands of life, using skilful strategies which are socially manipulative (distracting adults, using excuses, appearing to become physically incapacitated).

More information on PDA


Rare hereditary condition in which the amino acid phenylalanine is not properly metabolized. PKU can cause severe learning disabilities if not treated.

Rett syndrome

A complex neurological disorder which is genetic in origin. It affects mainly girls, and only a very few boys. Although present at birth, it becomes more evident during the second year.

More about Rett syndrome


Maternal rubella infection in the first eight to ten weeks of pregnancy results in foetal damage in up to 90% of infants. Multiple defects, which may include autistic traits, are common and are collectively known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome.

Semantic-pragmatic disorder

Good grammatical language but lack of ability to use language in a socially appropriate manner.

Smith Magenis syndrome

A genetic disorder where common characteristics include some degree of self-injury, sleep disturbance, developmental delay, short stature, decreased sensitivity to pain, hyperactivity and destructive or aggressive behaviour.

Tourette's syndrome

Condition characterised by multiple tics characteristically involving the face and head (twitches, blinking, nodding) as well as vocal tics.

Tuberous sclerosis

Rare genetic disease that causes benign tumors to grow on vital organs. It commonly affects the central nervous system.

More information about tuberous sclerosis

Turner's syndrome

Rare chromosomal condition affecting girls where the second X chromosome is absent or abnormal. Turner's syndrome is generally characterised by short stature and non-functioning ovaries, usually leading to absence of pubertal development and infertility.

West's syndrome

Condition usually commencing between 3 and 8 months of age characterised by infantile spasms and often associated with a change in behaviour and a slowing of development of the child.

Williams syndrome

Rare disorder caused by an abnormality in chromosomes. It shows a wide variation in ability from person to person. It can cause learning disabilities.

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16 Jun 2022