BIO MEDICAL TREATMENTS AND RESOURCES
Biomedical treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDS) is essentially the restoring of function to the bodily systems which, because they are out of balance, result in the behaviors that define the spectrum diagnoses. The biomedical approach to treating ASDS begins with a thorough history taking and evaluation. The evaluation process will typically require extensive health and social history taking, metabolic, immune and sensory testing. As appropriate and determined by the patient’s history and presentation, treatment can include a number of therapies which include, but are not limited to metabolic, nutritional, immune and detoxification treatment for patients who do not detoxify adequately without assistance.
Based upon the current state of research it is not entirely clear why these patients struggle with gastrointestinal, immune, hormonal, detoxification and sensory issues. However, it is apparent from decades of work and treatment that the problem results from three major causes:
1 - Food allergies and malabsorption of food and nutrients
2 - An inflammatory process of the gut lining which creates discomfort and digestive disruption/IBS
3 - An error in the liver methylation detoxification pathway, which results in inadequate clearing of toxins that then contribute to neurotoxicity.
These conditions can exist individually or more likely operate as overlapping agents of pain, disease and behavioral issues. Behavioral issues can result from the presence of neurotoxins which are not properly filtered by the liver, as well as pain, discomfort and malnutrition secondary to a digestive process which is not healthy and functional.
AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DISORDERS AND ASSOCIATED CO-MORBIDITIES
Autism is a clinical and psychiatric diagnosis. It is a biologically based disorder of brain development. However, not all children with autism experience the same symptoms or severity of effect. Accordingly, medical professionals now use the phrase “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD) to embrace patients with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADD, ADHD and non-specific pervasive development disorder. Because these patients exhibit symptoms which manifest in a constellation of medical and behavioral challenges, professionals chose to view the condition as a spectrum.
Research has determined that autism/ASD likely has one or more genetic components in a small percentage of cases. As the field of epigenetics grows, more information will become available to assist in the understanding of the genetic expression of the associated conditions. However, and more importantly, recent research has confirmed the distinct and inarguable connection between the autism spectrum of health effects with pre- and post natal neurotoxicity exposure. Children today are at risk of exposure to 3000 synthetic chemicals produced in quantities of more than one million pounds per year. Recently the United States has launched The National Children’s Study which will examine 100,000 children from birth to age 21 and will include over 700 children with autism. The central inquiry of the study will be to attempt to link children’s pre-natal and post-natal environmental exposures with the subsequent appearance of disease and dysfunction. Were the issue of pre-natal and childhood exposure to neurotoxic illness not a significant health issue, this study and the enormous effort involved, would be unnecessary. According to the medical publication Pediatrics, data published in the autumn of 2009 indicates that in ASD patients, gastrointestinal disorders and associated symptoms are commonly reported. In such patients, gastrointestinal disorders can present as nongastrointestinal problems. Disturbed sleep and nighttime awakening were reported in 52 percent of studied ASD patients who had gastrointestinal symptoms, as opposed to 7 percent of age-matched healthy siblings. Children with ADS who had reflux exhibited unexplained waking irritability more frequently (43 percent) than those who did not (13 percent).
The study concluded that ASD behaviors, including problem behavior may be markers of abdominal pain or discomfort. Many children with ASD are functionally and intellectually impaired and therefore cannot effectively communicate when they are uncomfortable or in pain. In May of 2008, a multidisciplinary team met in Boston Massachusetts and was organized to study the evaluation and management of gastrointestinal disorders for patients with ASD. Experts included the fields of child psychiatry, epidemiology, genetics, immunology, nursing, pediatric allergy, pediatric gastroenterology, pediatric pain, pediatric neurology, pediatric nutrition and psychology. Based upon the work completed by this group of experts, it was concluded that the prevalence of gastrointestinal abnormalities in patients with ASD’s is incompletely understood at this time and further study is distinctly warranted. The group also concluded that the evidence for abnormal gastrointestinal permeability in ASD patients should be developed by further study to determine if this condition plays a role in the neuropsychiatric manifestations of ASD’s.
Most significantly, the study concluded that patients with ASD’s and gastrointestinal symptoms may be at higher risk for problem behaviors than those with ASD’s who do not have gastrointestinal symptoms. Problem behaviors include vocal and motor behaviors, self-injury and aggressions, sleep disturbance or irritability and all of these behaviors may be behavioral manifestations of abdominal pain or discomfort. It was determined that sudden and unexplained behavioral change can be the hallmark of underlying pain or discomfort. A healthy child who is free from pain and illness can undertake daily tasks and human interrelationships with far less aversion than one who struggles with gastrointestinal illness and associated nutritional inadequacy. Behavioral treatments and medications should not be employed as a substitute for legitimate treatment of gastrointestinal illness and malnutrition.
For example, the study states that aggressive and self-injurious behavior in patients with ASD’s may be the primary clinical manifestations of Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Imagine being a child stricken with the symptoms of reflux but being unable to communicate that this condition routinely causes severe pain.