Supporting Midlife Autistic Adults

Dr. Joe Piven stands in front of a MRI machineAutism is often thought of as a condition of children. And it is. But kids grow up, and researchers have shed little light on the experiences of older individuals with autism, some of whom were only diagnosed when one of their children was diagnosed with autism.

In fall 2022, Joe Piven, MD, the Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, updated the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, of which he’s a member, on what research has revealed since 2015.

In 2019, researchers documented that older adults with autism experience higher risk of various health conditions: gastrointestinal disorders (24%), hypertension (42%), diabetes (50%), obesity (69%) and sleep disorders (90%). Independent researchers found the same increases in separate studies in 2020 and 2021.

Piven said, “Moving forward, we need to include underserved and diverse populations in longitudinal cohort studies of midlife and older autistic adults.”

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