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Autism/AS and Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS)

First Published Sunday, 4th May, 2008.


The American Academy of Pediatricians reports there is no evidence to support a link between vaccine and autism or IBS. IBS tends to be triggered by stress and anxiety. It’s not difficult to understand a physical link between emotion and IBS when you consider that the bowel(as with lung and skin) develops from the same forerunner tissue in the embryo as the brain and nervous system. In regard children experiencing IBS, it’s important to be looking at what may be causing elevated levels of stress in their day(peer/teacher stressors/changes at home or school/tests etc) to pinpoint the IBS trigger.  For older teens/adults, elevated levels of stress may be down to work-related stress, friendship/relationship difficulties, financial pressures.


Despite some reports claiming IBS is more common in females than males, in actual fact, it’s just as common in both sexes. It’s often the case that people will experience a combination of mild and more severe symptoms, with flare-ups from time to time. It’s estimated that between one and three and one in five people will suffer from IBS at some point in their life.

There are four main chronic and recurring symptoms of IBS: pain, constipation and/or diarrhoea and abdominal bloating. Other symptoms may include nausea, headache, excessive wind, poor appetite and bladder problems. The exact cause is unknown, but as anxiety is the dominant emotion in autistics, stress/anxiety would be high on the list of considerations. Diet itself does not cause IBS, but spicy, very high fibre and high fat foods would all likely worsen the symptoms.

A combination of factors across all populations that may be triggers are: stress, overactivity in the gut, overactivity of nerves and muscles in the intestines, food allergy or intolerance, hormonal factors, and diet and lifestyle changes. Adults with IBS learn to watch out for foods that are bothersome, and avoid them. Exercise is important.

The most troublesome symptom of IBS is often the pain as a result of abdominal spasms. There are treatments like Buscopan IBS Relief to help relieve pain in medically confirmed IBS. It has a relaxing antispasmodic effect which works directly on the muscle on the bowel to relieve the colicky pain of cramps and spasms associated with IBS. I remember my eldest son being given an anti-spasmodic brilliant green med way back when he was 5 years(he’s now 22yrs) and extremely anxious/stressed over school, though IBS was never diagnosed. Both our boys have IBS as do other Aspie family members.

It’s important to point out that blood in the bowel is NEVER a sign of IBS. In this case, a swift visit to the Doc for further investigation is in order. This is particularly important if you think the blood is mixed with the motion.

For further information about IBS:



Latest Research/Articles


New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome Linked To Genetic Causes:

New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS


Studies Explore High Stress-Gastrointestinal Disorders Connection: