An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders

An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders Contributed by Marci Wheeler

In the next few postings, I intend to serialize “An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders Contributed by Marci Wheeler.“ I don’t know where I got this, or how long ago.

An increasing number of parents are seeking biomedical interventions for their children on the autism spectrum. Various theories on biomedical treatments exist. Making the decision to explore biomedical interventions more difficult are the unique differences among individuals, the cost involved for evaluations, testing, and treatments, the lack of knowledgeable professionals to consult, and the relatively small amount of easily accessible and understandable research and information available to review.

Current opinion is that there are many potential causes of autism spectrum disorders. Most agree that there are multiple factors involved. Research on the possible genetic basis of autism spectrum disorders is expanding along with research on biomedical triggers. In the majority of cases, there is likely a complex relationship between a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger that results in the behavioral symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. This article will briefly highlight the biomedical theories of causation and the associated biomedical interventions that are more commonly pursued by families. Resources for more information will be provided throughout. This brief article cannot begin to address all the important issues and information related to biomedical treatments. It is merely an attempt to provide basic information. The information contained in this article is not to be considered a recommendation or endorsement for a particular theory or approach for treatment. It is important to understand the status of research and carefully examine treatment options and interventions whether they are educational, therapeutic, or biomedical in nature.

 

Posted on February 14, 2016 by regmreynolds

An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders Contributed by Marci Wheeler, continued

Some Biomedical Based Causal Theories of Autism Spectrum Disorders

There is no universally accepted theory of causation. It appears there is a complex interplay of factors that can result in symptoms leading to a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. There is now believed to be a number of genetic and environmental causes. The purpose of this article is not to focus on genetic theories of causation. Here, the only focus will be on the most commonly cited biomedical concerns thought to be implicated. Later, the more commonly cited interventions which address these biomedical concerns will be shared.

Currently, there are four broad areas of focus which conceptualize the possible biomedical causes of autism spectrum disorders. Most researchers and practioners feel that all four areas are intertwined and that each affects the other. Gastrointestinal abnormalities, immune dysfunctions, detoxification abnormalities, and/or nutritional deficiencies or imbalances have all been suggested as potential biomedical “triggers” for autism spectrum disorders. It is hard to determine which scenario came first. It is felt that one problem is connected to the next that follows. But deciding which came first seems to be another part of the puzzle to address for each individual. Gastrointestinal abnormalities, immune dysfunctions, detoxification irregularities, and nutritional deficiencies or imbalances may cause some of the same symptoms. Often a problem in one of the four biomedical areas impacts one or more of the other areas. However, for purposes of simplification and clarity, each of these will be discussed separately.

 

Posted on February 15, 2016 by regmreynolds

An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders Contributed by Marci Wheeler, continued

For children on the autism spectrum, symptoms of gastrointestinal problems may include; diarrhea, constipation, reflux, food cravings, bloating, fatigue, aggression, sleep difficulties, “spaciness,” agitation, inappropriate laughing and “stim” behaviors including hand movements, toe walking, and spinning objects or self. Gastrointestinal abnormalities may be due to the following ailments: Bacteria, yeast, or fungus overgrowth (Shaw, 1998); “Leaky gut” defined as increased permeability of the intestinal lining, often caused by chronic inflammation that is often due to yeast and/or the inability to break down proteins from casein (dairy products) and gluten (wheat, barley, rye, oats and other grains) which then leak into the bloodstream and travel to, and impact various tissues, including the brain, possibly causing an opiate affect in the brain (McCandless, 2002); Alteration of intestinal flora as a result of antibiotic use for common childhood infections such as earaches (Shaw, 1998); or Enterocolitis; a unique inflammation due to the presence of the measles virus in the intestinal tract: ileal hyperplasia (McCandless, 2002).

Signs of impaired immunity in children on the autism spectrum may include; cyclic fevers, compulsive behaviors, skin rashes or eczema, impulsivity, aggression, and bowel problems such as diarrhea, constipation, impaction, and/or blood and mucus in stools. There are also anecdotal stories of children with autism who spike a high fever that result in a dramatic increase in awareness as well as communication and social abilities (Blakeslee, 2005). This effect is lost again when the fever subsides. This is thought to relate to differences in the immune system. Immune system dysfunctions are believed to impact brain development or functioning in susceptible individuals. Immune dysfunction is thought to be a result of the following genetically linked or environmentally acquired ailments: Viruses that are present that may or may not be detected according to the symptoms presented (McCandless, 2002); “Leaky gut” (McCandless, 2002); Infections treated with antibiotics that over time alter the immune system (Shaw, 1998); Genetic predisposition to autoimmune diseases in the family (McCandless, 2002); or Allergies or sensitivities to foods (Marohn, 2002).

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