Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fibromyalgia and Autism Connected?

Every once in awhile I go through a phase where I find myself blaming myself for my children being autistic. Trust me, I know this is pointless and silly, but I think every parent goes through something similar when their children are either disabled, ill or otherwise "special". It's just natural human nature.

I often find myself thinking, is this something I did during my rebellious years as a teen and young adult, is this something I did wrong when I was pregnant, did I eat too much tuna fish, did I not take enough vitamins, was I too trusting in the doctors when it came time to giving them their vaccines (something I still firmly believe played a contributing factor), did I stay in my marriage too long and many other self-deprecating thoughts.

This time, however, is different. This isn't about blaming myself for something. This is simple curiosity about a link between my chronic, painful disorder and Autism and the fact that both disorders are still inundated with mystery and puzzles. Could the mystery lie in a connection?

Well, as I started to pay more attention I started to notice that it seemed like not only could I not go anywhere without meeting at least one person who had either a child or family member who was autistic, but I also couldn't go anywhere without meeting someone who either had, or knew someone who had fibromyalgia (FMS). Is it just me or are both disorders becoming more prevalent at an alarming rate?

Then I started looking at some of the similarities in physical symptoms. Now, I know I may be alone here but my children are always complaining of one ache or pain and sometimes it seems like it is more so than others. At times Justin even seems like he is oversensitive to pain and both children are over sensitive to certain textures, smells, etc. Something I also struggle with myself. In fibromyalgia there is a definite oversensitivity to pain. Children on the Autism spectrum are known to have many sensory processing problems causing many of these children to be hypersensitive to things like touch, taste, smell, etc.

Then there are the gastrointestinal problems. Many children with autism suffer from multiple gastrointestinal issues, including, but not limited to, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). IBS is one of the most common conditions associated with Fibromyalgia as well and I am certainly one of those who suffer from this condition as are both of my children.

On top of that there is the possible oversensitivity or vulnerability to the effects of toxins and medications. I, myself, am extremely sensitive to any medication. I found out that many people with FMS are also very oversensitive and this is one of the reasons this disorder is so difficult to treat. FMS is not curable but with certain medications some sufferers have found relief from some of the symptoms. I, unfortunately, am not one of them. I cant take anything without either getting violently ill or suffering any number of strange side effects. Both of my children are the same although their side effects seem to be more with the mind (hallucinations, irritability, suicidal thoughts, etc).

In doing an online search on a connection between autism and FMS I actually found an article that discusses how one clinic in Atlanta that specializes in FMS treatment was NOT recommending the H1N1 vaccine for their patients because of this sensitivity to toxins and the fact that the H1N1 vaccine contains the preservative Thimerisol which contains mercury. Thimerisol is one of the factors that many people, myself included, blame in the HUGE increase in the prevalence of autism. Many parents of autistic children have become more careful about vaccines because of their belief that Thimerisol contributed to their child's autism. There is a whole movement based on this premise.

I found many interesting articles while doing a search for a connection between the two and I found many articles (links that I will try and post below) that talk about this connection and some that even point to the XMRV retrovirus that has recently been found to be in blood samples taken from BOTH patients who are autistic and in those with FMS or CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and more research is being done to further investigate this connection.

So, again, I wonder, if for no other reason than simple curiosity, could there be a link? I am wondering how many other people out there have a family history of BOTH autism and Fibromyalgia and if there is any benefit to doing more research to see.

Just food for thought. Please don't read any deep, dark meaning behind this post. This isn't another crusade to FIND A CURE for my children's autism because I have jumped OFF that bandwagon a long time ago. My goal is acceptance and awareness for my children, not a CURE. But I do find this hint of a connection, at the least, interesting. Make sure you check out the poll I have in the right hand column and let me know if you have a family history of both FMS and Autism.

Here are a list of some interesting articles I found and there are many more out there:

Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the H1N1 Vaccine

Doc who worked for CDC theorizes relation between Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Autism

Retrovirus Implicated in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

Is Autism Associated With a Viral Infection?


  1. Wow. To think someone else is finding the same connections as myself. My journey started with what went wrong with my neurotransmitters & was led in this direction through my research.
    I'm a 41 woman with Fibromyalgia & C-PTSD.
    I have paradoxical reactions to benzos & SSRIs.
    I score high for asperger.
    The men in my family are all eccentric, to say the least. The children, in my family, show distinct autistic traits. *chuckles* I find them all adorable.
    The men I'm attracted to, well, they all have high IQs & are very quirky.
    How do you know your different if your family all behave, think & react like you?
    I noticed very early how different the rest of my friends families were.
    I was always the outsider observing how they behaved & learned how to interact by that.
    I don't believe I caught autism from anything.
    I do believe drugs can have severe reactions to those of us with these genetics & make us sick or even stunt our emotional & physical development.
    I think neanderthal genetics holds the keys.
    My brain is bursting with connections & answers to the question of, what's wrong with me & my family?

    1. I too think there is a link between fibromyalgia and autism.But there is also a link between TMJ, Fragile X, EDS, Fibromyalgia, A Parkinson type tremor found in older people with Fragile X. I think the common link is TMJ and compression of the trigeminal nerve which is causing Dysautonomia andand that all these conditions are just differntdifferent manifestations of the same problem which is compression of the trigeminal nerve. There is literature on how a mouth appliance for TMJ alleviates TMJ,fibromyalgia, TICs which are associated with autism, it alleviates parkinsons .

  2. I also have fibromyalgia, a son with autism, and a son with ADHD. I have found that treating allergies to anything and everything reduces symptoms. My son who is now 19 was in special ed until he was 5 with autism spectrum disorder. We used an alternative treatment,NAET, to treat allergies. It really helped. My son did very well after the treatments he even became involved in marching band and show choir. Then when he went to college at CSULB he became very ill. He had started working in the print room and was exposed to formaldehyde. He started displaying symptoms we hadnt seen since he was 5. His symptoms were similar to OCD with the continuous washing of hands as well as Alzheimer's as had periodic tremors of the head. Then he was rediagnosed with aperger's this time. After 5 months of these treatments my son has returned to having only very mild symptoms. I really do believe if we had the money to pay for more treatments he would recover altogether. God bless you Phyllis for sharing. Everyday is a struggle for me as I fight this chronic pain and battle for my children

  3. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia as an adult but i have had symptoms since i was a child. In the 80s autism was not getting diagnosed. I have also noticed a link or overlap between autism and fibromyalgia. The hypersensitivity and cognitive dsyfunction. Both can be over activity in the brain.

  4. My father has fibromyalgia and my daughter has autism and fibromyalgia, IBS, and more. I found a site that I found interesting. Not sure if we will tr it or not. She is older now so feel somewhat safe to try.

  5. Wow. Bingo ditto to all i read. Im coming to same conclusions as all. And am worried my 11 yr old will get or has beginning of fibro symptoms. How will i know for sure?

  6. Fibromyalgia is one of those diagnoses by elimination. Meaning, they eliminate everything else first, and then diagnosis fibromyalgia if nothing else fits. There are markers however. There are websites that will direct you to something called tenderpoints. They are points on the body that if you press on them, they are very tender. I believe that if you have 11 of the 18 tender points then it is highly likely you have fibromyalgia, but the Dr. needs to know about all the other symptoms first to make a diagnosis. They will look at sleep patterns, how long the widespread pain has lasted, any bowel movement problems, fatigue, depression, etc before making an official diagnosis.