Biomedical Treatment of Autism
Autism is often accompanied by many other physical, emotional and/or behavioral challenges. These conditions may negatively worsen the autistic symptoms, and result in a decrease in the person’s functioning and happiness. People with autism appear to be much more sensitive to infections and toxins than the average person. They often have genetic variations that make it difficult for their bodies to rid itself of even normal bodily waste products, let alone chemicals that are found in medications, herbicides and pesticides, household cleaners, air pollution, molds, heavy metals, and by infectious “critters”. They often have significant digestive system difficulties, which lead to a high rate of infection with yeast and fungus, bacteria, and parasites as well as constipation or diarrhea. Their bodies may have difficulty handling oxalates, tiny crystals that are found in some plants that may build up in various parts of the body – such as the eyes, bladder, bowel, kidney, joints, muscles, and brain – and cause discomfort or pain. There may be dysfunction in mitochondria, the energy factories of each cell, as well as difficulty absorbing and using various nutrients from foods. Complicating the latter is their exquisite sensory sensitivities – to taste, touch, smell – that can result in severe restriction in the foods they will eat, leading further to malnutrition. An autistic person who is in pain may not be able to communicate that fact, and may therefore act out behaviorally, even aggressively. Therefore, sources of pain or discomfort must be sought and treated. Also, autistic adolescents have a higher rate of developing seizure disorders than the general population, so any changes in mood or behavior must consider this possibility.
People with autism often have severe food sensitivities, either developing antibodies to many foods or becoming addicted to components of foods such as gluten and dairy that turn into substances that act like morphine in the body. For this reason, a gluten and casein free diet is often a necessary first step in the treatment. Other components of the biomedical approach are very individual, depending on each person’s needs. They may require a low oxalate or low histamine or salicylate diet as well. Healing the leaky gut and ridding it of pathogens while replacing them with probiotics is another important component. Detoxifying the body of organic and/or heavy metal toxins may be necessary – some methods of doing this include using binders to grab the toxins, fiber and plenty of water to flush them out of the body, possibly glutathione and other antioxidants, replacing the nutrients that are deficient, and the use of sauna to sweat them out of the body. Mitochondrial dysfunction can often be helped with various nutritional supplements, including choline, glutathione, Vitamin B12, CoQ-10, acetyl-l-carnitine and others.
People with autism, especially those with higher functioning forms, may also have other mental health symptoms, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and ADHD. These issues must also be evaluated and addressed. Social skills deficits and communication difficulties are best addressed through educational means such as individual or group therapy with knowledgeable therapists. There has been some potential benefit demonstrated with intranasal oxytocin for interpersonal interaction, and from low-dose Naltrexone for reducing brain inflammation. EEG Neurofeedback has also been shown to have potential benefits for higher functioning individuals with autism.