Auto-immune conditions¬†occur painfully (literally) frequently for autistic people. I don’t claim to know why; I’m not a scientist, and I dare not go down that rabbit hole otherwise I may never re-emerge! Auto-immune conditions are thought to be triggered by the body having to cope with chronic stress. As neurodivergent people typically experience very high stress levels coursing through our bodies on a daily basis, it is not a surprise that auto-immune disorders would be an unfortunate feature for many of us.

All I can say is that I know this to be true from first-hand experience (my auto-immune disease kicked in during the last year of my degree and is always flares up during periods when I am going through more stress than usual. The experiences of the autistic people in my communities also confirm that auto-immune disorders are rife for us. In fact, I had a mutual infodump with a lovely autistic friend of mine only the other day, as we joyfully/painfully listed our various auto-immune conditions and drugs.

The list of possible auto-immune diseases that can be co-occurring conditions for autistic people is vast. I’m not going to list them all but they include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, psoriasis and Addison’s disease.

As my initial rheumatologist told me, 25 years ago, ‘rheumatology is an art, not a science’. I’m still¬†not sure how reassuring or reliable that statement was! All I can say is that during that time I have had my own diagnosis changed three times for the same symptoms, from the list of examples I’ve given above. At this stage I just take the drugs when I’m desperate and I can’t say I take any of their diagnoses as being accurate or permanent!