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).