Study Aims and Objectives
To investigate the relationship between digestive issues and the how the arousal system functions at rest and under stress in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Methods - Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
Monitors measuring heart rate and level of arousal, as well as digestive problem questionnaires were used to collect data on 108 boys and 12 girls, aged 6 to 18. Measurements with the monitors were taken before and after a stressful activity.
Results – Main Finding(s)
Subjects with constipation and lower abdominal pain had a smaller change in response to stress, since they typically had a higher baseline measurement. It was also shown that these same symptoms resulted in higher irritability. This relationship was particularly strong for those with anxiety.
Conclusion – Summary Statement
This study provides evidence that digestive issues are related to how a child with ASD responds to stress. Those with constipation and lower abdominal pain showed a smaller response to stress. It was further shown that this effect was particularly strong in children with ASD who also suffer from anxiety.