What are Autism Spectrum Disorders?
Autism and autism spectrum disorders (collectively, ASDs) are neuro-developmental disorders characterized by deficits in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, the display of repetitive behaviours and/or a restricted range of interests. Autism is now estimated to affect 1 in 88 children, occurring mainly in males.
Traditionally thought of as a mental health condition, autism is now being recognized as a whole body disorder. Autism spectrum disorders affect the normal function of the gastrointestinal, immune, hepatic (detoxification), endocrine and nervous systems. Children with ASDs often suffer from:
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
- Disturbed sleep
- Chronic and/or recurrent infections
- Irritability, self-stimulating/injurious behaviour
- Skin rashes, eczema
- Impaired pain sensation
Autism spectrum disorders include autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified, Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder. ASDs often presents around 12 to 24 months of age when parents begin to realize that their child is not developing normally, often with language delay. Early identification and treatment are critical, because timely intervention improves outcomes.
The exact cause of ASDs is unknown; however the disorders likely result from a variety of factors. As a naturopathic doctor, I recognize that there is a significantly interplay between genetic factors, dietary sensitivities, environmental exposures and impaired detoxification that play a role in autism. These are also key areas of treatment that need to be addressed in your child’s healthcare.
Naturopathic Medicine for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Otherwise known as biomedical treatment when used for autism, naturopathic medicine plays an important role in the treatment of ASDs. As each child on the spectrum experiences and expresses autism differently, my approach to treatment is to identify and address the factors that affect your child the most.
Naturopathic medicine addresses autism as the whole body disorder that it truly is. With a detailed health history and advanced and detailed laboratory testing, is it possible to uncover the specifics of your child’s biochemistry, metabolism and physiological functioning. Based on this, there are effective treatments that can help address the multitude of signs and symptoms of ASDs. Key biomedical interventions include:
- Hypoallergenic diet, often an elimination of gluten and dairy
- Vitamin B-12
- Essential fatty acids
- Fat soluble vitamins
- Immune support and probiotics
- Other treatments targeted to individual nutrient requirements
In treating your child, I can help identify and address their unique needs to improve their development. Benefits of these interventions frequently include:
- Improved eye contact and responsiveness
- Improved language development and vocabulary
- Improved social interaction
- Improved cognitive function
- Improved digestion, immune system and sleep
As a naturopathic doctor, I believe autism is treatable and that your child can reach their full potential. I have completed clinician level training through the Autism Research Institute, who formally held the Defeat Autism Now! list. I look forward to working with you and your child through their biomedical treatment!