What Makes Autism Worse?

There are certain factors that can exacerbate the symptoms of autism and make it worse. In this article, we'll explore what can make autism symptoms worse.

Ruben Kesherim
June 22, 2023

What Makes Autism Worse?

Autism is a complex developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. While there is no cure for autism, early intervention and therapy can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

What Foods Make Autism Worse?

While there is no specific diet that has been proven to cure or worsen autism, some studies suggest that certain foods may contribute to the severity of symptoms.

Free Assorted Sliced Fruits in White Ceramic Bowl Stock Photo

For instance, gluten and casein, proteins found in wheat and dairy products respectively, have been linked to increased hyperactivity and repetitive behaviors in some individuals with autism.

Additionally, sugar and artificial additives may exacerbate gastrointestinal issues commonly associated with autism. However, it's important to note that these dietary connections are still under investigation and not all individuals with autism will experience negative effects from these foods.

As always, it's best to consult a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your child's diet.

What Common Items Make Autism Worse?

Apart from certain foods, there are also common items that may exacerbate the symptoms of autism in some individuals.

For example, loud noises such as sirens or fireworks can cause sensory overload and trigger anxiety or meltdowns. Similarly, bright lights or flashing screens may also be overwhelming for some people with autism.

In addition to sensory triggers, certain chemicals found in everyday household products like cleaning supplies or air fresheners can also aggravate symptoms of autism.

These chemicals include phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which have been shown to disrupt hormones and affect behavior in animal studies.

While more research is needed to establish a direct link between these chemicals and autism, it's best to err on the side of caution and opt for natural alternatives whenever possible.

Overall, it's important to be aware of potential triggers that may make autism worse and take steps to minimize their impact on daily life. This may involve making dietary changes, avoiding certain environments or stimuli, or using alternative products that are safer for both people with autism and the environment.

Sensory Overload

Individuals with autism often have sensory processing issues, which means they may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to certain stimuli. This can lead to sensory overload, which can cause anxiety, stress, and meltdowns.

Sensory overload can be triggered by loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, and other sensory stimuli. To manage sensory overload, individuals with autism may need to avoid certain environments or wear noise-cancelling headphones or sunglasses.

Changes in Routine

Individuals with autism often thrive on routine and predictability. Changes in routine can be disruptive and cause anxiety and stress.

This can include changes in schedule, changes in environment, or unexpected events. To manage changes in routine, individuals with autism may need to prepare in advance, use visual schedules or social stories, and have a support system in place.

Social Isolation

Social interaction can be challenging for individuals with autism, but it is important for their development and well-being.

Social isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, and anxiety. To manage social isolation, individuals with autism may need to participate in social skills training, join social groups or clubs, and have opportunities for social interaction.

Co-occurring Conditions

Many individuals with autism have co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, or OCD. These conditions can exacerbate the symptoms of autism and make it worse. To manage co-occurring conditions, individuals with autism may need to receive treatment and therapy for each condition.

Lack of Support

Individuals with autism and their families often require support and resources to manage the challenges of autism.

Without adequate support, individuals with autism may struggle to access the services and therapies they need.

To manage the lack of support, individuals with autism and their families may need to advocate for themselves, seek out community resources, and connect with support groups.

In conclusion, there are many factors that can make autism worse. Sensory overload, changes in routine, social isolation, co-occurring conditions, and lack of support can all exacerbate the symptoms of autism. However, with early intervention, therapy, and support, individuals with autism can manage these challenges and improve their quality of life.


  1. https://www.crossrivertherapy.com/autism-food-list-and-diet
  2. https://embrace-autism.com/10-things-that-increase-autistic-symptoms/
  3. https://www.amenclinics.com/blog/5-foods-can-make-autism-worse/
  4. https://www.medicinenet.com/what_foods_should_be_avoided_with_autism/article.htm
  5. https://www.verywellhealth.com/connections-between-autism-and-nutrition-4155118

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