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, continued

Children on the autism spectrum may show signs of impaired detoxification such as: sensory issues, sleep difficulties, stimming, impulsivity, aggression, compulsive behaviors, night sweats, anxiety, dilated pupils, and lack of speech or pica (ingestion of inedible items). Detoxification abnormalities may be related to a genetically linked susceptibility or an environmentally acquired condition such as the following: Methionine cycle abnormalities; part of the bodies required sulfation process (James, 2005); Methylation may be impaired for some individuals; this is a process by which organic chemicals are made available for various important body functions (Marohn, 2002); Glutathione synthesis abnormalities; glutathione naturally rids the body of heavy metals (James, 2005); Metallothionein (MT) dysfunction has been seen in some individuals; zinc-copper balance and detoxification of heavy metals are key roles of MT, a protein in the body (McCandless, 2002); or Oxidative stress; damage caused by build-up of metabolic by-products often due to glutathione depletion (James, 2005). Detoxification abnormalities are thought to contribute to the build up of heavy metals in the tissues including the brains of individuals on the autism spectrum. Symptoms of heavy metal exposure are similar to many of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.

Nutritional deficiencies or imbalances are a fourth major biomedical area of concern that families and professionals address. Common symptoms of nutritional abnormalities in children on the autism spectrum may include: under weight or over weight, anxiety, mood swings, sensory issues, lack of speech, stimming, aggression, impulsivity, eye poking, dry hair or skin, and pica (ingestion of inedible items). Whether nutritional deficiencies and imbalances are a cause of or a result of an autism spectrum disorder is not clear. Nutritional problems can result from malabsorption of nutrients and/or problems with digestion that may be associated with the gastrointestinal, immune, and detoxification problems.

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