Abstract and Introduction
Individuals with autism experience multiple issues affecting their overall health and wellbeing. A comprehensive picture of the numerous domains affected in children and youth with autism is lacking. To understand the care planning needs of these children and youth, data were collected and analyzed using the Child and Youth Mental Health (ChYMH) Assessment and the Child and Youth Mental Health –Developmental Disabilities (ChYMH-DD) tools. Specifically, this study analyzed a series of collaborative action plans (CAPs) triggered by individuals with autism without intellectual disability (ID) and individuals with autism and with ID. Individuals with autism both without and with ID triggered numerous CAPs, suggesting individuals with autism are at risk for a myriad of issues. Findings also revealed children and youth who triggered one concern also triggered concerns in other domains. Prevalent areas with many consequential concerns high-lighted in this article include social challenges, sleep, and injurious behaviors. These areas signal issues of concern for individuals with autism, their caregivers, and health care professionals. Further research to determine the most effective interventions to manage or prevent these issues from affecting the wellbeing of individuals with autism is needed.
Individuals with autism experience multiple issues affecting their overall health and wellbeing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2011), the overall prevalence of autism has increased 120% since 2000, currently affecting 1 in 59 children (CDC, 2019).
A comprehensive picture of the numerous domains affecting children and youth with autism is lacking. However, multiple studies have high-lighted health concerns among those with autism. For example, comorbid conditions associated with autism, such as depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit disorder (ADD), have been confirmed in the literature (Dubin et al., 2015; Ghaziuddin et al., 2002; World Health Organization [WHO], 2019). Autism is also commonly associated with a myriad of medical conditions, including migraines, seizures, eczema, and ear and respiratory infections (Kohane et al., 2012). The presence of comorbid mental health problems and medical conditions compromises the quality of life of individuals with autism, particularly when compared to typically developing populations (Gurney et al., 2006; Kuhlthau et al., 2010; Potvin et al., 2015). Moreover, individuals with autism are frequently subjected to violence, injury, and abuse (WHO, 2019), which further threatens their wellbeing.
Individuals with autism who experience one health issue may be at risk for experiencing other issues. For example, Estes and colleagues (2018) reported that children with autism who had more pronounced social deficits had reduced educational success compared to children with autism who had stronger social skills. Children with autism, who also struggle with sleep issues, may be at a greater risk in relation to social skills (Johnson et al., 2018; Richdale & Shreck, 2009). Further, sleep issues among children with autism have been associated with increased caregiver stress (Johnson et al., 2018; Petrou et al., 2018). Moreover, injurious behaviors are an additional concern among this population and have been linked to sleep problems (Goldman et al., 2011), communication difficulties (Hartley et al., 2008; Soke et al., 2017), and psychiatric disorders (Soke et al., 2017).
Given the complications experienced by individuals with autism, it is important to conduct a comprehensive, needs-based assessment before issues become more entrenched and difficult to change. As such, to assess completely the multiple domains affected by autism, data may be collected using the Child and Youth Mental Health (ChYMH) Assessment and the Child and Youth Mental Health – Developmental Disabilities (ChYMH-DD) tools (Hirdes et al., 2015; Stewart, Hirdes, Curtin-Telegdi et al., 2018; Stewart, Hirdes, McKnight et al., 2017; Stewart, Hirdes, McKnight et al., 2018; Stewart, Hirdes, Curtin-Telegdi, Perlman et al., 2015; Stewart, LaRose, Gleason, Nicolson et al., 2015; Stewart, Theall, Morris et al., 2018; Stewart, Theall-Honey, Morris et al. in press a, in press b; Stewart, Theall, Morris, Berg et al., 2015; Stewart, Theall, Morris, Berg et al., 2016).
Pediatr Nurs. 2020;46(2):83-91. © 2020 Jannetti Publications, Inc.