Riders with Autism Part 8 – Medical Info and More Ideas

The second presentation at the PATH Intl Virtual Conference was “Autism Spectrum Disorder” given by Sandra Friedman. It was a great in depth presentation about the medical side of Autism. There are a few key things I want to share from it!

(P.S. I titled this as a follow up to my post series about Riders with Autism this post stays with all the others in the blog index).

The medical information behind ASD

Sandra’s presentation detailed the medical diagnosis, causes, supports, and therapies of Autism. There’s no way I could share all the info here, so I will post a link to the video and powerpoint when it is available. I like that this presentation was by a doctor who knew her stuff and included the recent new DSM info! Though some may say it’s too detailed, someone pointed out correctly that “The better you understand a disability, the better you can address it!”

Most people with ASD have other conditions as well

I’d never seen it listed so clearly. MOST adults and children with autism have pschiatric and medical comorbidities and associated medical conditions. So as difficult as Autism can be to diagnose and support, it’s further complicated by all these other issues!

This was the data she listed, that kind of blew me away.

For children:

  • Seizures 20-33%
  • GI problems, constipation, diarrhea
  • Sleep disorders 50-80%
  • Eating problems 70%
    • Picky eater 75%
    • Obese 10-30%
    • Pica – can lead to choking, intestinal perforation, broken teeth, parasite, deficiencies
  • Compared to general population, higher risk of depression and suicidal thoughts or attempts 28x higher in kids with ASD under 16 years old!
    • –> this especially breaks my heart because I have experienced riders with ASD express this, but I didn’t realize it was so common! how many do not express this out loud, but think it?

Continues into adulthood

  • And in adulthood they don’t get as much support!
  • Adult doctors may not have as much developmental resources as pediatricians
  • 50-75% unemployed – but of those employed there are less negative behaviors
  • 2x more likely to die prematurely due to treatable medical and mental health comorbidities! Usually due to accidental injury, epilepsy, suicide

TR lessons as respite time for caregivers

The barn can be therapy for the parent too! Many parents use TR time as down time for themselves. So provide a special environment/waiting/watching room for them.

One non-PATH center got services paid for as “respite time” through a regional center because it gives a break to caregivers. This is often through third party Medicaid program but varies state to state. For example, CA does not see TR as a necessity, but CO has a CES waiver that funnels Medicaid funding to disability services. The point: pursue funding to caregiver rest time, not for EAAT.

More PATH Intl ASD Resources

Here’s a link to some PATH Intl ASD Courses & Recordings

Imagine what it’s like to have ASD

Someone mentioned Temple Grandin’s book The Autistic Brain as a good one about how the brain of ASD develops.

While looking for the link, I came across this neat presentation by Temple Grandin that includes a lot of good visual examples of how someone with Autism might see things.

Do you have any ideas to add? What did you find most interesting about the seminar?


Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement! If you would like to contribute an activity or article, please contact me here, I would love to hear from you!

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