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Autism and Mortality Rate

Article: Why People with Autism Die at a Much Younger Age, by David Mills. Pulled from:

This title is awful. They are reporting on a correlational study, and all the discussion about causes is conjecture. But you don't sell magazines with reports on trends and relationships between variables. This is not to say that the original article they are discussing (briefly) is not important. It is.

Mortality rate for people with Autism is higher than the general population. Consequently, apparently the life expectancy for Swedes is shockingly low. They're supposed to be one of the happiest, if not the happiest people on Earth. So much for happiness. We have known several items that are highlighted in this article for decades. First, people with cognitive deficits have shorter life spans. Not new info. People with chronic stress tend to get sick more often and thus have shorter lifespans. Not new info. People with Autism disproportionately experience clinical levels of anxiety. Not new info. The suicide rate among people with Autism is surprisingly high. Newer, but again, not new info.

What's left in this article? Someone threw it all together and described empirically what people may have been suspecting. People with Autism are more likely to experience other neurological issues, like epilepsy; have GI issues caused by weird diets or actually causing restricted diets, chronic anxiety causing a variety of things such as hormone imbalance and sleep disturbance (or caused by these things), and on and on. In short, people with Autism tend to experience a disproportionate number of other issues that shorten life in humans.

Although sensationalized (again) in this article, I do believe that we can use this information as a renewed call to action. Yes, we need more information, better treatments, and perhaps even a new perspective (e.g., "looking at the whole person") on Autism and how we, as a society need to respond to it.

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