Autism

Overview

The rate of autism has increased 2,000 percent in the last 20 years and ADHD now affects at least one in 10 children. Autism is diagnosed four times more often in boys than girls. Since autism its first diagnosis in America, the incidence has climbed to an alarming one in 88 children. According to officials at the National Institutes of Health, while there is most likely a genetic predisposition, there must also be an environmental component to autism. The rapid rise in the rate of autism over the last 20 years cannot be attributed solely to genetics.

Autism is a neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of three and impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet the most underfunded.

The Documented Environmental Causes of Autism

Based on parental reports, sharp regression has occurred in children directly following immunizations. Other parents have reported autism in their unvaccinated children. More sparsely, some report swift regression following an illness, use of antibiotics, or random chemical exposure such as carpet cleaning. Though published science and mainstream media often fail to acknowledge a link to any of these specific exposures, it is vital that parental accounts be carefully considered.

A recent review of the world's medical literature suggests that underlying biochemical abnormalities are likely involved in environmental susceptibilities and the development of autism including mitochondrial dysfunction, immune dysregulation, inflammation, oxidative stress, methylation problems, and toxicity.

The theory that parental practices are responsible for autism has long been disproven. While mainstream science discounts vaccinations as a cause, members of the National Autism Association feel that an overly aggressive vaccination schedule coupled with toxic vaccine adjuvants could affect individuals who have a family history of autoimmune disorders. As with any medication, adverse events do happen. Vaccinations are no exception. Research to investigate and reduce adverse events in immunized individuals is currently nonexistent.

Pesticide exposure, limited prenatal vitamin intake, maternal age at time of conception, and prenatal exposure to SSRI drugs, valproic acid, and thalidomide have all drawn warranted suspicion as links to autism.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Autism can range from mild to very severe with respect to social impairments, cognitive impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. Lack of eye contact, facial expression, gesturing, proper vocal expression, and an inability to react to familiar voices or to follow objects visually have all been observed in various developmental ages of those affected.

Research shows that many individuals with autism spectrum disorders have underlying medical issues that frequently go undiagnosed and can cause or exacerbate symptoms of autism. These issues are known to include allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, feeding disorders, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, food sensitivities, and sleeping disorders. Treating these underlying medical issues can greatly improve some of the behaviors and symptoms associated with autism.

Medical Treatment

Currently there is no cure for autism, though with early intervention and treatment, the diverse symptoms related to autism can be greatly improved and in some cases completely overcome. No medication can improve the core signs of autism, but certain medications attempt to control symptoms. Antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety, and antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems. Other medications may be prescribed if the child is hyperactive. As always, some medications can cause dangerous side effects.

The range of home-based and school-based interventions for autism can be overwhelming. The goal of treatment is to maximize the child's ability to function by reducing autism symptoms and supporting development and learning. Treatment options may include behavior and communication therapy, educational therapy, and family therapy. Children with autism often respond well to highly structured educational programs which often include a team of specialists and a variety of activities where family members can learn how to play and interact with their children in ways that promote social interaction and proper communication.

How We Can Help

The human brain is divided into two hemispheres, both of which fire simultaneously to distinguish human intelligence and cognitive complexity.

The slightest disruption in the timing of this firing can have devastating affects on brain function. In autism spectrum disorders, the brain excels at firing short-range connections within one hemisphere, which may make a child gifted in particular areas, such as music.

However, long-range simultaneous firing of connections between the left and right hemispheres is deficient due to an undersized corpus callosum. This is the anatomical bridge between left and right hemispheres over which long-range signals traverse. This deficient firing begins in utero or during the first few years of life due to epigenetic influences, as discussed earlier.
Due to this asymmetrical stimulation, one side of the brain becomes over developed while the other side remains underdeveloped, hindering communication between hemispheres.

In autism spectrum disorders, we see a left hemisphere that is overdeveloped compared to a weaker right hemisphere. This explains why these children possess unusually strong skills in certain areas and unusually weak skills in others. Researchers have identified these imbalances by looking at how different areas of the brain vary in size, electrical imbalances, and concentrations of blood flow.

Very effective treatment options may include vitamin and mineral supplementation, immune system support, specific dietary intervention, detoxification, and neurologically-based chiropractic adjustments.

It is essential for parents to research the various causes of autism that are being investigated. Families should utilize all available information regarding environmental insults, vaccines, and epigenetics. Since combinations of environmental factors trigger the onset of this emerging epidemic, autism is preventable and treatable.