Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, is a wide range of developmental disorders that affect the nervous system. The most recent statistics show that 1 in 68 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder. An estimated 1 in 42 boys are diagnosed in the U.S., compared with 1 out of 189 girls. (See source The Autism Exchange/Parent Fact Sheet).
Autism is a complex disorder which impairs social and communication skills. The symptoms of autism are thought to be permanent, but current research shows that a variety of interventions may help children with overcoming social, communication and developmental challenges faced by children with autism. There is a wide spectrum of approaches to autism. The integrative medical approach to autism spectrum disorders is to address the underlying multi-factorial causes which may contribute to the child’s condition. The following areas form the basis of a biomedical testing and treatment approach.
Detailed history and physical, including prenatal, birth history, immunizations and developmental milestones.
Individualized Laboratory Testing
- Food and environmental allergy testing
- Evaluation for Heavy metals
- Evaluation for infections, e.g. Lyme Disease and co-infections, Viruses and Fungi, Mold, PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus) and PANS (Pediatric Acute Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome)
- Organic acids
- MTHFR or additional genetic testing
- Digestive imbalances
- Diet can have a big impact on autism symptoms. A number of foods, most commonly casein in dairy products, gluten, and soy can exacerbate autism symptoms. On the other hand, diet rich in berries, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nut butters may reduce inflammation and help cognitive function.
- An organic diet reduces the toxic load from chemicals or pesticides used in food production.
- Our bodies are designed to eliminate common toxins from air, food, and water, personal care products, but at times our natural detoxification systems may be overwhelmed.
- Helping the body detoxify by using a variety of therapies such as infrared sauna, IV therapy, Epsom salt baths, footbath, and more is an important component of an integrative program for autism spectrum disorder
Explore supportive services to optimize your child’s development, education, socialization and overall health. These include the following:
- Speech Therapy: Not just for actual language challenges, but also to address Feeding and Sensory issues with eating. Many children have nutritional challenges and texture issues with certain foods.
- Individualized Education Plans: for education
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Play and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
All children have special gifts and talents that can be valued as a blessing. My recommended charge to parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, is to find what is unique, precious and special about your child. Autism is not a condition that should be viewed as fixable or reversed. Set attainable goals. Change negative perspectives and outlooks for your child. Avoid “guilt parenting” . Try not to question “What is wrong with my child?” but ask “What is different about my child and how can I, as his parent, help develop these challenging differences into success? “ It is important to have an organized approach to the multi-factorial root causes for the overall condition, which along with a community of practitioners, specialists, and modalities…like those of us here at NIHA… will assist you in this journey.
Lorelle Bradley, MD, FAAP is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Holistic and Integrative Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has over seventeen years experience as a pediatrician, and has made an ongoing commitment to lifelong learning and advocacy for children. She believes that children are barometers of family dynamics and sees the vital role of genetics, environment, nutrition, and toxic exposures as contributing factors to the overall health of a child.