Australian study finds link between autism, stress disorder

CANBERRA, May 9 (Xinhua) -- People with autism are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Australian research has found.

In a new study, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Queensland (UQ) found that people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are predisposed to PTSD.

PTSD is a mental and behavioral condition that typically develops after experiencing a traumatic event. It can last for months or years, with symptoms including disturbing thoughts, distress in response to trauma-related cues, flashbacks and difficulty concentrating and sleeping.

The research found that for people on the autism spectrum, PTSD can be triggered by a single mild stress event such as entering a particularly noisy or unfamiliar environment.

Shaam Al Abed, lead author of the study from the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU, said that understanding the hypersensitivity to PTSD for people with autism was crucial to developing therapeutic treatments.

"PTSD in autism is currently challenging to diagnose," she said in a media release on Wednesday.

"If we can understand a bit more about the underlying mechanisms, it will go a long way to making sure people are managing their symptoms appropriately."

According to the federal government, over 200,000 Australians have been diagnosed with autism -- a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by challenges in communication and the presence of restricted and repetitive behavioral patterns.

The research found that PTSD can lead to the aggravation of repetitive behaviors and other core traits of autism and called for better awareness of PTSD in autism to allow for efficient intervention.

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