Autism Spectrum Disorder – Good Nutrition May Help Manage Symptoms
How common is autism?
Autism statistics in the U.S. are hard to determine however the numbers seemed to jump to 1 in 80 according to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from 2011-2013. This month the CDC announced that this number may actually be lower. The results of the 2014 National Health Interview Survey suggests that as many as 1 in every 45 children in the U.S. displays signs of autism. Research shows that this increase is only partially due to improvement in diagnosis and awareness of the disease. Autism is 4-5 times more common among boys and girls and is estimated to affect 1 out of 42 boys vs 1 in 189 girls in the U.S.
What is Autism?
Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are terms that identify a group of complex disorders of brain development. They are also called pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) due to the delay in many areas of development. Previously the category of ASD and PDD were recognized as distinct subtypes that include the following disorders of development:
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
- Asperger Syndrome
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
In 2013 all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. These disorders have a varying degree of effect and are associated with difficulties in social interactions, both verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. ASD can be associated with:
- Intellectual disability
- Difficulties in motor coordination
- Attention problems
- Physical health issues (sleep disorders and gastrointestinal disturbances)
Autism appears to begin very early in brain development however the symptoms tend to emerge later between 2 and 3 years of age. They include:
- Need for repeated rituals
- Repetitive and compulsive behaviors
- Repetition of certain motor activities:
- Head banging
- Hand or limb flapping
- Body rocking
- Feeling textures
- Teeth grinding
What causes these differences in brain development is not known for sure. However a variety of factors are being investigated. These include metabolic, genetic and environmental factors. A combination of exposure to toxins, medications taken during pregnancy, infections, inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, inborn errors of metabolism, food allergies, nutrient deficiencies may also contribute to the disorder.
Some of the best ways to manage autism naturally include:
- Fish oil
- Digestive enzymes
- Vitamin D
- High potency multivitamin
What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
This is often seen with social disorders, symptoms of Asperger’s often involve inhibited social skills and include:
- Awkward social skills – difficulty interacting with others and maintaining conversations
- Repetitive and eccentric behaviors
- Unordinary rituals or preoccupations – getting ready for the day in a specific order
- Communication troubles – avoid eye contact, don’t display expressions, neglect body language
- Limited range of interests – obsessive in nature
- Coordination difficulties – clumsy and awkward movements
- Highly skilled in one area – typically excel in visual skills, music, math and art
Currently there is no cure for Asperger’s, however there are steps that can be take to reduce the effects of this disorder. A combination of the following therapies can help reduce problem behaviors and improve overall functioning.
Functional wellness approach that addresses underlying issues such as nutrient deficiencies and/or infections
Behavior modification – supporting positive behavior and decreasing problem behaviors
Occupational, physical and speech therapy – increase normal functioning
Social skill therapy – build social skills and ability to read verbal and nonverbal cues
Medications – symptoms can be treated, however there is no medication to specifically treat Asperger’s
Similar to autism, there is currently no cure for Asperger’s. However, research suggests that it may be hereditary to some degree and symptoms may appear from a variety of factors. Asperger’s patients typically function at a higher level than children with autism, which seems to show lower IQ and more difficulty with verbal communications. In both cases it is difficult for children to express their feelings, they don’t hold eye contact, and have trouble picking up on body language and gestures of others. Also both display obsessive behaviors as well as can be oversensitive to sounds, clothing and even food.
Takeaway Don’t be over alarmed just yet. But we suggest everyone limit their risks by maintaining a healthy, healing diet and avoiding any and all toxins you can. While autism rates are reportedly on the rise, please note that the new umbrella classification of autism spectrum disorder partly contributes to this. The sooner you can determine whether or not your child has autism or ASD, the sooner you can find the best ways to enhance and encourage their mental development.