Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism is a developmental disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life. Autism is defined by symptoms that appear before the age of three which reflect delayed or abnormal development in language, social skills and behavior. Autistic disorder symptoms can manifest in various ways.
- Impaired social interaction including; inappropriate eye contact, facial expression, body posture and gestures
- Difficultly making and maintaining friendships that are appropriate to their developmental level
- Inability to reciprocate emotions
- Delayed or absent development of spoken language. In children who can speak, there are inadequate attempts to begin or sustain a conversation
- Repetitive speech or phrases
- Preoccupation with interests such as; spinning, counting, lining up
- Rigidly sticks to routines or rituals that do not have a purpose
These children have impaired social interaction which can include any of the following:
- Inability to regulate social interaction by using non-verbal behaviors such as body posture and gestures, eye contact and facial expression
- Does not develop peer relationships that are appropriate to their developmental level
- Does not seek to share achievements, interests or pleasure with others
- Lacks social or emotional reciprocity
- Restricted repetitive behaviors
- Preoccupation with abnormal (in focus or intensity) interests. Such as spinning, or the wheels of cars
- Rigidly sticks to routines or rituals that don't appear to have a function
- Has stereotyped, repetitive motor mannerisms (such as hand flapping)
The symptoms cause clinically important impairment in social, occupational or personal functioning. There is no clinically significant delay in language (single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years). There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior, and curiosity about the environment in childhood.
Many of the treatment suggestions will be based off of the results from the initial testing. The majority of children with Autism or Asperger’s have nutritional deficiencies that will also show up on the testing. The nutritional deficiencies will be treated through diet changes, oral supplementation or injections. During the initial visit all appropriate treatment options will be discussed. Treatment will address the digestive tract, immune system, and detoxification processes.
The digestive tract can have several areas of suboptimal function in children with Autism. First, many of Autistic children have food sensitivities to wheat, gluten, dairy, and casein. To address this issue many patients will be asked to follow a gluten free casein free (GFCF) diet for at least 4 consecutive months. A GFCF diet has been shown to be very effective in reducing impulsivity, improving eye contact, and improving mental clarity. There are several helpful websites such as, Talk About Curing Autism which will ease the transition to a GFCF diet.
Children with Autism and Asperger’s may also have additional foods sensitivities that can be tested for by a simple blood test. Digestive enzymes may be recommended to reduce the symptoms associated with your child’s food sensitivities. Plant based digestive enzymes may help digest and break down fats, carbohydrates and protein.
Second, many children have yeast/candida over growth and bacterial imbalances in the gastrointestinal tracts. There are prescription medications that can be used to help these imbalances, such as Nystatin, Diflucan/Fluconazole, or antibiotics.
There are also herbal and nutritional supplements that can also help the imbalances. Many of these natural products also help boost their immune system. Some of these herbs and nutrients include:
- Olive Leaf
- Oregano Oil
- Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil/Caprylic Acid
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
- Vitamin C
Children with Autism and Asperger’s may also need some supplementation to help boost their body’s detoxification process. There are many natural products that aid these processes such as:
- Milk thistle
- N-acetyl cysteine
- Calcium citrate
- Magnesium citrate
- Methylcobalamin (Vitamin B12)
- Vitamin C
Many children greatly benefit from therapy; occupational, speech, music, and physical.
Occupational therapy helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. Occupational therapy assists people in developing the skills necessary for independent and satisfying lives.
Physical therapy is the application of researched and proven techniques to help people get back in motion. Physical therapists are health care professionals with extensive clinical experience who examine, diagnose, and then prevent or treat conditions that limit the body’s ability to move and function in daily life.
Speech-language pathologists (SLP) will work with a child one-to-one, in a small group, or directly in a classroom to overcome difficulties involved with a specific disorder. SLPs often informally known as speech therapists are professionals educated in the study of human communication, its development, and disorders. By assessing the speech, language, cognitive-communication, and swallowing skills of children and adults, speech-language pathologists can identify types of communication problems and the best way to treat them.
Music therapy is a healthcare profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages. Music therapy improves the quality of life for persons who are well and meets the needs of children and adults with disabilities or illnesses.
Autism/Asperger's Specialty Testing
Testing is available to help identify nutrient deficiencies, bacterial and yeast imbalances, food sensitivities, inborn errors of metabolism, and heavy metal status.
Organic Acid Testing
Ordered through Great Plains Laboratory, the organic acid test evaluates inborn errors of metabolism; such as PKU, maple-syrup urine disease, and many others. In addition, the organic acid test will check for many other abnormalities such as vitamin deficiencies and abnormal metabolism of catecholamines, dopamine, and serotonin. The organic acid test will also detect overgrowth of intestinal yeast or bacteria. Selective immunodeficiency, exposure to antibiotics, and consumption of sugars can stimulate an overgrowth of intestinal yeast or bacteria.
Comprehensive Stool Analysis
Ordered through Great Plains Laboratory, the comprehensive stool analysis detects the presence of pathogenic microorganisms such as yeast, parasites, and bacteria which can contribute to chronic illness and neurological dysfunction. It provides helpful information about prescription and natural products effective against specific microorganism strains detected in the sample. The test also evaluates beneficial bacteria levels, intestinal immune function, inflammation markers, and overall intestinal health.
Heavy Metal Testing
Ordered through Doctors Data, the urine toxic and essential elements analysis is an invaluable tool for the assessment of retention of toxic metals in the body and the status of essential nutrient elements. Toxic metals do not have any function in the body; in fact they adversely affect almost every organ system and disrupt the balance of nutrients in the body. Analysis of the levels of toxic metals in urine after the administration of a metal detoxification agent is an objective way to evaluate the accumulation of toxic metals. Chronic, low-level exposure to toxic metals can result in retention of those metals in the body. They can be associated with many adverse health effects. Toxicity occurs when the net retention exceeds the body’s ability to process and remove these metals. To evaluate net retention, one compares the levels of metals in urine before and after the administration of a pharmaceutical metal detoxification agent such as EDTA, DMSA or DMPS. Different compounds have different affinities for specific metals, but all function by pulling out “hidden” metals from deep tissue stores and mobilizing the metals to the kidneys for excretion in the urine.
A complete blood count (CBC) gives important information about the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood, especially red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A CBC will also help diagnose conditions, such as anemia, infection, and many other disorders.
The comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is used as a broad screening tool to evaluate organ function and check for conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, and kidney diseases. The CMP may also be ordered to monitor known conditions, such as hypertension, and to monitor patients taking specific medications for any kidney or liver-related side effects.