Copyright ©The Author(s) 2023.
World J Clin Pediatr. Sep 9, 2023; 12(4): 171-196
Published online Sep 9, 2023. doi: 10.5409/wjcp.v12.i4.171
Table 1 Impact of gastrointestinal disorders on children with autism spectrum disorders
The impact
Patient’s behaviorAbnormal posturing, self-injury, sudden outbursts, social withdrawal or isolation, and changes in eating habits
Self-stimulatory behaviors
Toe walking, increased irritability, restlessness, and agitation
Poor attention, reduced food intake, or avoidance of certain foods
Poor response to psychotropic medications
Patient’s social interactionDifficult engagement in social interactions
Anxiety, irritability, and withdrawal from social situations with social avoidance
Decrease the ability to engage in social play, follow social cues, or maintain relationships with peers and family members
Poor development of social skills
Patient’s sleepDisrupted sleep patterns
Disruption of sleep-wake cycles regulation
Patient’s epilepsyAltered brain electrical activity
Increased risk of epileptic tendencies
Decrease epilepsy thresholds
Interactions with anti-epileptic medications
Patient’s educationIncrease absenteeism and poor attendance
Poor academic performance
Poor participation
Decreased ability to concentrate
Poor engagement in learning activities
Reduced motivation and participation in classroom activities
Poor participation in group activities
Poor participation in food-related activities
Poor cognitive functioning
Patient’s quality of lifePoor eating, sleeping, and social interactions
Reduced appetite, causing poor nutrition and weight loss
Table 2 The different behavior changes that result from various gastrointestinal disorders
GI disorder
Behavior changes
Gastroesophageal reflux with/without ulcerationsSelf-stimulatory behaviors (commonly called stimming)
Constant eating/drinking/swallowing (grazing behavior)
Frequent nighttime awakenings, abnormal posturing, pushing out the jaw, straining the neck, and tapping the throat, increased self-injury, and other challenging behaviors
Abdominal painIncreased anxiety levels and emotional dysregulation, leading to outbursts and meltdowns
Repetitive rocking and other repetitive behaviors.
Blinking, sudden screaming, spinning, and fixed look
Agitation: Pacing, jumping up and down
Sleep disturbances, exacerbating the behavioral challenges and affecting overall well-being and functioning
ConstipationTip-toe walking
Increased irritability, restlessness, and agitation
Abnormal sleep patterns, such as difficulties falling asleep, frequent awakenings, or restless sleep
Daytime irritability, poor attention, fatigue, and behavioral challenges
Reduced food intake, or avoidance of certain foods
Toilet training problems
DiarrheaSocial withdrawal if the child is experiencing discomfort or embarrassment due to diarrhea
Increased self-stimulatory behaviors like engagement in repetitive or self-stimulatory behaviors to self-soothe, especially during the time of discomfort
Toilet training problems
Change appetite with changing eating patterns or food preferences