From Disability Scoop — By Shaun Heasley —  

A federal panel charged with guiding the government’s autism efforts is looking for input on how other physical and mental health conditions impact those on the spectrum and the services they need.

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, or IACC, is asking members of the public to weigh in on how so-called co-occurring conditions affect individuals with autism and the “research, services, and policy needs that may be helpful to consider in addressing issues related to these conditions.”

The panel comprised of government officials and members of the autism community is tasked with advising the secretary of health and human services and coordinating federal autism activities and it’s expected to use feedback collected to inform its recommendations.

Many people with autism experience physical conditions including gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disturbances, epilepsy, sensory and motor challenges, the panel said. Mental health issues can include depression, anxiety, aggressive or self-injurious behavior and suicidality, among others.

In addition, the IACC indicated that autism can present alongside learning disabilities, other intellectual and developmental disabilities and communication disabilities.

The panel wants to know about the most significant challenges that people with autism are facing as a result of co-occurring conditions and what research could be done to help address these issues.

What’s more, the IACC is asking for feedback on how autism services could be improved to better address co-occurring conditions in this population. That could include changes to make services more accessible, improve insurance coverage or alter interactions between individuals with autism and providers, among others, the committee said.

The IACC also wants to know how COVID-19 infection or illness as well as societal changes related to the pandemic have altered the physical or mental health conditions experienced by people with autism.

Members of the public have until Feb. 14 to submit comments to the IACC.

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