In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that concluded the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 59 births in the United States – twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125 – and almost 1 in 54 boys. In June 2014, researchers estimated the lifetime cost of caring for an individual with autism is as great as $2.4 million. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.
• Avoid antibiotics, acetaminophen, aspirin and prescription drugs. • Engage in mental exercise by consistently learning new skills and information. • Avoid exposure to heavy metal toxins such as mercury, arsenic, copper, aluminum, and lead. (A study showed that 6 out of every 18 children with autism have extremely high levels of toxins in their bodies. Cognitive, physiological, and behavior issues can all stem from toxin build-up; consider testing for genetic variants in detoxification pathways).
Dietary Tips and Caveats:
• Eliminate gluten and casein-containing foods. Avoid all wheat flour products, including pasta and bread, as well as dairy products. Consider an elimination diet. • Avoid or limit caffeine and other potentially neurotoxic compounds such as aspartame and MSG. • Emphasize omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel, herring) and omega-9 fats (olive oil, olives, almonds, hazelnuts, avocados and macadamia oil). • Aim for 9 servings of skin-on fruits and vegetables rich in polyphenols. Eat organic as much as possible to avoid pesticides.
Neurofeedback for Individuals with Autism:
It is thought that by correcting neuroelectrical abnormalities, many of the severe symptoms associated with autism could significantly diminish or subside. Understand that while autism is largely influenced by genetics, various interventions such as neurofeedback to alter brain waves may help improve communication skills, learning abilities, and reduce sensory sensitivities. Perhaps the greatest benefit derived from neurofeedback is that it can have long-lasting effects. Once an individual has completed enough training, they are able to normalize their brain wave activity “at will.”
Can Chiropractic Help?
Chiropractic can help those with autism on several levels. First, chiropractic adjustments help restore proper neurological function. This includes the sensory, motor and autonomic nervous systems. When subluxation occurs, it places stress on the autonomic nervous system and locks it into a protective state of “fight or flight”. A nervous system stuck in fight or flight can suppress immune and digestive function as well as have negative affects on social and executive functions. This condition can also make it very difficult for a child to get quality sleep. Chiropractic adjustments help remove this neurological stress and rest, immune, digestive and higher level neurological functions can resume. Many sensory functions are located in the spine as well, specifically the upper cervical spine. Subluxations in this area can have a negative impact on the sensory system. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to improve sensory processing disorder as well as balance and coordination. Subluxations can also affect gross and fine motor functions. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to improve gross and fine motor skills as well.