Autism

Colleen Copelan, MD

Board Certified Psychiatrist, specializing in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry located in Camarillo, CA

If you have a child with autism, they’re more likely than the general population to have a comorbid diagnosis of mental health conditions like anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or depression. At her practice in Camarillo, California, Colleen Copelan, MD, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, evaluates and treats children, adolescents, and young adults with autism and other mental health conditions. Call Dr. Copelan to schedule a consultation today, for expert psychiatric care for your child.

Autism Q & A

What are some of the common comorbidities of autism?

Approximately 85% of children with autism have a comorbid psychiatric condition. Anxiety, ADHD, and depression are the most prevalent co-occurring mental health conditions. 

ADHD symptoms such as inattentiveness, lack of eye contact, hyperactivity, and repetitive behaviors are also common signs of an autism spectrum disorder. While this can make autism more challenging to diagnose, getting the right treatment can significantly improve your child’s well-being. 

Additionally, as children with autism age and become more self-aware, their risk of developing anxiety and depression increases. 

Autism-related health conditions like epilepsy, sleep disorders, and gastrointestinal problems can also cause crisis episodes that trigger mental health symptoms.  

Do children with autism present mental health symptoms differently?

Your child experiences the same symptoms that anyone else might have, but they might express them differently.  

Mental health issues cause distress and interfere with a person’s ability to function. If you notice changes in your child’s mood or behavior, Dr. Copelan can help.

You know your child best. They might be able to tell you if they feel sad, worried, or scared. You might know their non-verbal distress cues. If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, make an appointment with Dr. Copelan. 

How can a psychiatrist help my autistic child?

Dr. Copelan has training and experience in helping children and young adults with autism. She begins with a consultation, often using the Autism Comorbidity Interview (ACI). ACI is a semi-structured interview that uses special screening questions to identify and diagnose psychiatric disorders. 

Dr. Copelan also talks to you about your child’s mood, behavior, and overall function to establish a baseline of their optimal function and mental health. She also evaluates your child’s symptoms in the context of their developmental level. 

Once she understands your child’s needs, Dr. Copelan creates a treatment plan, providing medications, therapy, and referrals for additional specialist care. 

Dr. Copelan can help your child develop the skills they need to cope with negative thoughts and feelings. She might also work with your child on strategies for dealing with change or controlling their impulses. 

Every patient receives compassionate, customized care to help them thrive. Call Colleen Copelan, MD, to make an appointment for expert diagnosis and treatment today. 

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