**We use both identity-first (autistic youth) and person-first language (children with autism) when speaking about autistic children. We recognize that this is an important conversation in our field and that preferences for identity first and person-first language differ by individual.**
Children with ASD often experience mental health symptoms that influence their daily lives and functioning across different areas of life.
Parents, caregivers, and providers may have a hard time recognizing and managing the different behaviors and symptoms.
When a child has multiple symptoms or is impacted in multiple areas, it can be difficult to know where the behaviors are coming from. There are a number of reasons why it may be hard to tell if your autistic child is also struggling with a mental health condition. Some reasons include:
It may be even harder to tell if your child is experiencing symptoms in addition to autism if they are very young or if they have emerging language. Understanding the possible symptoms and behaviors that are consistent with certain mental health conditions can help guide treatment direction and options.
Some of the most common co-occurring mental health conditions are anxiety, Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and depression. Parents also often report challenging behaviors and meltdowns. Questions related to gender and sexual identity are also common.
Below is a list of symptoms and behaviors that we often see in children with ASD. There are many examples that follow; some examples describe very verbal youth while other examples describe children with developing language. The goal of our descriptions and examples is to try to capture the broad spectrum of autistic youth.
What Could Anxiety Look Like?
What Could ADHD Look Like?
What Could Depression Look Like?
How Can You Help Your Child?
What Could Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Look Like?
The website development was supported by the Children’s Mental Health Champion program, a program formed as part of a cooperative agreement with AUCD and the CDC. For more information see AUCD's National Center on Disability in Public Health. The content was developed by Courtney Paisley and Judy Reaven.
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