Intended for healthcare professionals


All inpatients with learning disabilities or autism to have case review in next 12 months, says health secretary

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 05 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6380

A plea - find out sooner rather than later whether the cases are simply in pain

Pain can effect the behaviour of people who are not intellectually impaired, but what happens if people are constantly in pain but cannot even tell you? Many autistic people would not have the ability to express the fact that they are in pain, which might manifest in uncontrolled aggressive behaviour. Also, increasingly it is accepted that autistic people commonly suffer from gastrointestinal disorders - I list some papers I casually just turned up [1-4].

What is happening is inhuman and degrading, and none of these young people should be paying this penalty for the failure of government [5,6]. On reflection a 12 month review does not meet the situation at all. It just looks like more government thumb twiddling.

[1] Ferguson BJ, Dovgan K, Takahashi N, Beversdorf DQ, 'The Relationship Among Gastrointestinal Symptoms, Problem Behaviors, and Internalizing Symptoms in Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder', Front Psychiatry. 2019 Apr 9;10:194. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00194. eCollection 2019.

[2] Kobliner V, Mumper E, Baker SM, 'Reduction in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Self-Injurious Behavior With Saccharomyces boulardii in a Child with Autism: A Case Report', Integr Med (Encinitas). 2018 Dec;17(6):38-41.

[3] Rattaz C, Michelon C, Munir K, Baghdadli , 'Challenging behaviours at early adulthood in autism spectrum disorders: topography, risk factors and evolution', J Intellect Disabil Res. 2018 Jul;62(7):637-649. doi: 10.1111/jir.12503. Epub 2018 May 24.

[4] Ely E, Chen-Lim ML, Carpenter KM , Wallhauser E, Friedlaender E, 'Pain Assessment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders' J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2016 Jan;37(1):53-61. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000240

[5] Gareth Iacobucci, 'All inpatients with learning disabilities or autism to have case review in next 12 months, says health secretary, BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 05 November 2019)

[6] Adrian O'Dowd, '“Horrific” treatment of children with learning disabilities must be ended, say MPs and peers',
BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 04 November 2019)

Competing interests: No competing interests

08 November 2019
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22