Autistic Comorbids

Many people on the Autism Spectrum have other comorbid disorders (myself included). Below are a few things that bother me even now as an adult.

Anxiety – I live in a near constant state of anxiety. The only thing that helps is my overly logical mind. I can normally “out logic” my anxiety and then distract myself. When a panic attack occurs, I can sit “calmly” on the outside and nobody would ever know anything was wrong (unless they noticed that I was a bit spaced out or tried to get me to talk).

Insomnia – my entire life. I have a hard time falling asleep and wake often. If I know that I have to get up earlier than usual in the morning my anxiety will keep me up all night in anticipation. Getting out of bed is also extremely difficult because I still feel tired.

Gastrointestinal / bowel disorders – I’ve always had problems with my stomach, as long as I can remember. There are certain foods that can trigger a horrible vomiting attack, but the main thing that seems to cause this is stress. It is possible that my stomach illness are what happens in the most extreme version of a “meltdown” but that is more of a theory for now.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – My teachers tried to convince my mother that I had ADHD in elementary school. I am easily distracted and have a hard time focusing on things that I am not interested in. My mind wanders off. However I have hyper-focus while working on tasks I enjoy. Luckily my mother refused to have me evaluated for ADHD because she did not want me medicated. I honestly think this is just part of the AS personality type.

Depression – it runs in my family and I now believe this is actually Autistic Burnout.

Sensory problems – most of us have these. Mine seem to worsen and become more intense when I am tired, but there are certain things I can never tolerate for long. Certain lights give me headaches and hurt my eyes. I can NOT handle the feeling of a manual toothbrush in my mouth or getting my nails filed. Also there is only a few types of socks that I can wear.

Nonverbal learning disorder – People with this disorder may not at times comprehend nonverbal cues such as facial expression or tone of voice. Has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language and may have poor coordination. (Yes, Yes, and YES!)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder –  I have more obsessions than compulsions. Most of the time I am able to mentally talk myself out of doing something that I fell heavily compelled to do. (Although the nagging thoughts / urge to do something can linger on until I find something else to occupy my mind.)

“Obsessions themselves are the unwanted thoughts or impulses that seem to “pop up” repeatedly in the mind. These intruding thoughts can be fears, unreasonable worries, or a need to do things. When a person is tense or under stress, the obsessions can worsen.

Compulsions are the behaviors that may result from the obsessive thoughts [. . .] Compulsions may be rituals, repeating certain actions, counting, or other recurrent behaviors.”

Epilepsy  / Seizures – I have only ever had one seizure and it was at a time where I had way too much stress in my life. Perhaps this was brain overload in its most extreme form.



19 thoughts on “Autistic Comorbids”

    1. Thanks Donald! It is very encouraging to find out that there are other people out there going through the same struggles. Before I discovered AS I thought I was somehow defective and mentally ill. Now I embrace that I just have a different personality type and am NOT ALONE!


  1. I relate to some of this quite a bit. I actually have the diagnosis for ADHD and insomnia being comorbid with Asperger’s, though I have questioned whether these are just “traits” rather than actual illnesses in my case (by the way, you made the right call by not medicating yourself for ADHD, I very much regret letting myself become dependent on those medications…)
    The sensory problems are by far the worst for me, though… My misophonia is so bad I can hardly function with it some days. I also get migraine headaches from smells, and I have a weird form of synesthesia where certain visual images cause the sensation of physical pain/discomfort.

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    1. Thank you for sharing. I agree that many of the comorbids are probably just a part of the AS package. My sensory problems are mostly visual leading to “migraines” / shut down. When I am tired or stressed all the sounds get louder and are hard to deal with. I have quite a bit of issues with tactile sensations also. The worst thing ever is the sensation of air moving across my skin / being cold. I can not handle it – and I get cold very easily like anything below 75 degrees F. Clothes have to be the correct materials / fit a certain way or I am so distracted that I can not think about anything else. All of this worsens when I am stressed or tired. I remember in high school walking through the crowed halls was horrible because people would bump into me. Every time it happened I had a strong urge to lash out physically, but always managed to keep my explosion internal. This has not happened in years because I do a good job keeping away from crowds and situations where bumping may occur. Not even sure if that would bug me as much now since it has been so long. Strangely enough I also have an extremely high pain tolerance.

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      1. I definitely have the same thing with temperature, I can’t handle being too cold or too warm very well (and I’m pretty sure my body doesn’t know how to regulate its own temperature, either, so it’s just awful.)
        I also have a pretty high pain tolerance, but I never considered myself overly sensitive to tactile things. I do get really overwhelmed/distracted when clothes fit/feel wrong, though, so maybe the explanation is just that I’ve gotten really good at picking out clothing, haha.


  2. I have the anxiety, mild ocd, the gastro issues, and was diagnosed as ADHD as a child. My parents also refused to medicate the ADHD thankfully. But for sensory I am mainly textures for clothing especially dress clothes, and I too only have like 3 sock types I can wear. The poor coordination makes stairs kind of a disaster for me sometimes, and I have a semi-permanent bruise on my arm from door knobs. I never really tried to label it all before


    1. Oh goodness, don’t even get me started on walking into things and being clumsy! Lol. All my bruises tend to be from the waist down. My legs have always been a mess. Also no matter how I try my handwriting always looks horrible unless I write very slowly. Going on 30 and writing like I’m in elementary school.


  3. When we were seeking the dx for my son, his paed asked me about family history of all of these, and so did the psychologist who did the testing. I’m yet to encounter a specialist who doesn’t think that autism is at least in part genetic, and that it’s linked heavily with anxiety and depression, as well as other things.

    My sons kindy (he changed recently, thank god) wanted him medicated for ADHD too, at two years old, so I made it clear during all the testing that they were NOT to assess him for this. My logic was, once we get his autism ‘under control’ (meaning speech therapy, ot, finding out about his issues and how best to incorporate his needs into our family), if there was still a problem with hyperactivity I’d think about it. There’s definitely still a problem with hyperactivity, but I still don’t want him to have yet another label, but this one being one that will have every doctor recommending medication.

    He experiences most of what you wrote about already, and I’ll add an intolerance to cows milk protein which seems pretty common for ASD kids too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is great to hear about how you are advocating for your son. My best friend growing up was medicated for ADHD while I was not. She has struggled so much because of the medication. Getting off the pills at 30 was hard for her because they are addictive. Also one HUGE difference that I have seen first hand is – I had to learn to manage my “ADHD” symptoms and became a better stronger person because of it. She did not and when she goes off the meds she can’t focus because she never had to learn that skill. She also has trouble holding a job, and once told me she has “work ADD” meaning she gets bored with a jo ob after a few months and then needs ro find a new one. This is very career limiting. I tend to hate changing jobs and like to find jobs that are long term (at least 5 years) and learn about EVERY ASPECT of a company that I work for.

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      1. I’m glad I made the eighth choice, although honestly I never considered the long-term (as in 30 years down the road) side-effects. But I did think about how he needs to learn to cope with all of the characteristics that make ‘him’ in the real world. I also had a great paed, who was our first point of contact, who used great analogies to make me realise there’s nothing wrong with autism, only different, so why try to hide it? Better to learn to live with it, since it’s not going away.

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  4. Thanks so much for following me, reading your posts has brought tears to my eyes ! So much of what you have posted rings true with me and for years I’ve thought why am I so different from everyone? As a child I was always labled as a problem child, I was frequently bullied and all my reports said ‘ easily distracted’ now as an adult I go through so many of the challenges you have spoken of. Knowing that I am not alone is such a comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your very personal comment. One thing I have learned since I started seeking out others online is that we are NOT alone. I think it is important that we stick together and support each other. We are a special tribe, and it is hard to understand the struggles if you have not been there. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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