by Dr. Rita Louise
Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain that is typified by impaired social interaction and communication skills, as well as a history of restrictive and repetitive behaviors. Autism is one of five distinct Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), with Asperger’s Syndrome being the closest in signs/symptoms and believed causes. Combined, this group of disorders is often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Autism is identified by a pattern of symptoms, as opposed to a clinical diagnosis such as one that is made from a blood test. The manifestation of autism can cover a wide range from mild to severe, with the child appearing perhaps a bit quirky, but normal; to those that are severely disabled and are unable to function independently.
Parents often notice signs of a problem within the first year or two of a child’s life. If a child is not babbling, pointing or gesturing by 12 months, the child should be evaluated. An inability to speak even a single word by 16 months or a multi-word phrase by 24 months can also be an indicator.
Recognizing the potential signs of autism is important because it is believed that early intervention can substantially improve the outcome of a child’s long term success. While not a complete list, a child with autism will present distinct behavioral and social issues which can include: appearing to be in their own world, having temper tantrums, flapping their hands, rocking, or saying the same words over and over again. They may have difficulty interacting or processing information from their environment, display ritualistic behaviors, or have difficulty incorporating changes in their lives.
There are a number of theories as to what causes autism. Some believe there are biological causes; others think it is a psychiatric disorder, while yet another group states that it is a combination of wrong foods and too many antibiotics and environmental toxins that lead to physical and behavioral problems.
Of all the theories, the most widely accepted cause in contemporary medical circles is that autism is a genetic disorder and is inherited. It some cases, it is associated with agents that cause birth defects. A new controversial theory as to the cause of autism suggests that childhood vaccines are to blame. Vaccines are suspected because parents often notice symptoms around the time of routine vaccinations. This belief is also supported by the fact that autism has risen drastically since the 1980’s, when new compounded vaccines were commonly administered to infants. In the end, scientists do not have a clear idea or understanding as to the cause of autism.
Recommendations for Wellness
If you suspect a problem and your health care provider suggests that you “wait and see – your child might grow out of it”, get a second opinion or find a new health care provider.
As soon as you know that there is a problem, enroll your child in an intensive special education program. Early intervention can help provide your child with self-care skills, social skills, and potential job skills.
As a parent, be open to new treatments and new therapies that may become available. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about your child’s illness and the treatments that are available, the better prepared you will be to make appropriate choices.
Some parents have reported marked improvements in functioning when supplementing their children’s diets with certain vitamin and mineral supplements.
Do an elimination diet to rule out food sensitivities. Some parents, after restricting certain foods like wheat, milk, corn and soy from their child’s diet, found remarkable changes in their behavior. The same can be said about environmental toxins. Try using natural, fragrance-free products around the house.
Have your child evaluated for malabsorption issues. Some researchers believe that nutritional deficiencies caused by the body’s inability to absorb vitamins and minerals are implicated in the case of autism.
Music, play, or dance therapy can help bring your child out of their own private world.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of brain cells. Some researchers believe that a problem in the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids contributes to autism. Supplementation with omega-3
oil may prove useful.
Skullcap can be used to help reduce overwhelming feelings and promote a healthy attitude.
has been used to relieve nervous tension and lessen frustration.
To support a healthy brain and nervous system, gotu kola
can be used to help facilitate mental function and help balance the mood.
supports the central nervous system and can benefit people who find it difficult to relax or who have trouble focusing on one task.
acts as a gentle tranquilizer to relieve anxiety and nervousness generally caused by emotional strain.
This information is provided for educational purposes only.
The descriptions of nurtritional supplements are based on the historical usage of the various ingredients. They are not intended to promote any direct or implied health claims, and actual results of usage can vary.
The statements on this Web site have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.