Study Aims and Objectives
This paper looked to understand the relationship between gastrointestinal issues and rigid-compulsive behaviors in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
5,076 children from the Autism speaks Autism Treatment Network Registry were included in the study. Demographic information was collected about each participant, and parents reported on their child’s development, previous diagnoses, and psychiatric histories. Parents also filled out several questionnaires to report gastrointestinal and bowel issues that their child may have been experiencing. To measure existence of compulsive or repetitive behaviors, parents completed the Parental Concerns form and clinicians determined if rigid or inflexible behaviors met DSM-IV and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) criteria.
Results- Main Findings
Five primary measures of rigid-compulsive behavior were measured through DSM-IV criteria, ADOS observation, or a diagnosis of OCD. Eight secondary measures included the existence of repetitive but not compulsive behaviors, such as behavioral and verbal repetitive actions. The five primary measures studied were found to be associated with both diarrhea and constipation in children with ASD. Two of the secondary measures, family history of OCD and use of atypical antipsychotics, were also associated with diarrhea and constipation.
Conclusion- Summary Statement
This study suggests that patients with rigid-compulsive behaviors, including an OCD diagnosis, are at higher risk for exhibiting mixed gastrointestinal issues, including constipation and diarrhea. More research needs to be done to understand the nature of this relationship, whether one influences the other or a third biological pathway gives rise to both GI issues and rigid-compulsive behaviors.