Autism and Deafness: Guide

Joyce Sewell-Rutter and Stephanie Dawson | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Conditions associated with Autism

Vision and Hearing Loss:

Potential problems with vision and hearing need to be systematically investigated and ruled out.


This is common in children and young people (YP) with autism.  There may be specific phobias or a general tendency towards anxiety.  Changes in routine, difficulties understanding a situation, uncomfortable sensory experiences  and communication differences can all exacerbate feelings of anxiety.  Anxiety can be seen in behavioural changes, appetite changes and changes in sleep pattern.  It can also be exhibited in emotional responses, self-injury and reduced school performance.

Select from the Anxiety submenu The NHS Health A-Z - Conditions and treatments  

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

The child/YP struggles to pay attention and can show extreme levels of inattention, overactivity and impulsivity, or both.  There are also difficulties with organisation and social skills.  


Depression can occur in children and young people with autism at all levels of ability. Warning signs can include a change in behaviour, tearfulness, apathy, sleep difficulties, self-injury or aggression.  A family history of depression is a risk factor.

Select from the Depression submenu The NHS Health A-Z - Conditions and treatments

Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder):

The child/YP has difficulties in the development of motor coordination.  This can include difficulties with dressing (buttons/shoelaces), riding a bicycle, PE and using a pencil.  There can also be speech difficulties because of problems coordinating movements of the mouth and tongue.  This is called oral dyspraxia.

The NHS Health A-Z - Conditions and treatments Select Dyspraxia


The child/YP has seizures (fits).  ‘Grand mal’ seizures involve the whole brain and the child/YP loses consciousness.  ‘Petit mal’ seizures involve one particular part of the brain and may be simple or complex, depending on which part of the brain is affected.

General Learning Difficulties/Learning Disability:

The child/YP’s overall development and ability to learn is significantly delayed.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

The child/YP experiences repetitive, unwanted thoughts which provoke extreme levels of anxiety.  To eradicate the anxiety the child/YP is compelled to perform certain behaviours such as checking switches, doors, hand washing etc.

Specific Learning Disability:

The child/young person may have difficulties with reading (dyslexia), writing (dysgraphia), maths (dyscalculia) or other particular aspects of their learning while their intellectual ability is age appropriate.

MESHGuide about Dyslexia

MESHGuide about Dyscalculia

Tourette’s Syndrome:

The child/YP experiences a repetitive and involuntary movements or tics (eg shoulder shrugging, eye blinking, lip smacking etc), vocalisations (sounds or words -  eg spitting, throat clearing, swearing, shouting etc) and compulsive behaviours.