Autism Disorders Affect More Than Just the Brain

Children on the autism spectrum often need extra care in areas other than behavioral and speech therapy, so it is essential to bring any concerns to the attention of a pediatrician.
(photo: kids.britannica.com)

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are typically categorized by deficits in three main areas: social interaction, speech delays, or unique behaviors. However, in addition to these characteristics, the individual may have symptoms that are not typically associated with autism, although they may be very common to those in the autism community.

A common misconception about ASD is that it only affects the individual’s nervous system, when in fact, the individual may need to follow certain precautions or special diets because the disorder can affect other parts of their body. Doctors have called autism a “whole body condition”, as it affects multiple systems, including the digestive and excretory systems. Scientific discoveries have focused on the connections between autism and the gut, as the microbes that live there have a relation to mental functioning. The microbes also play a critical role in the development of one’s immune system as an infant, creating the ability, or inability, to digest most foods.

Unfortunately, according to clinical research, many children on the autism spectrum suffer from gastrointestinal issues, making it difficult for them to eat many common foods. Furthermore, digestive problems can show up as the child being a picky eater, having temper outbursts, being hyperactive, or displaying rigid behavior. As a result, it is important for parents and caregivers to bring this to the attention of a pediatrician, who can help configure if the child will benefit from following a new diet.

Food sensitivities or intolerances are often found in products such as wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, and corn. By testing and removing these sensitive foods from the child’s diet, doctors have found considerable improvement in the child’s behavior, as well as an improvement in speech and mental functioning. Therefore, it has become more evident that by treating physical symptoms that may be afflicting the child, they can display improvements in other areas.

In addition to gastrointestinal problems, children on the spectrum often have problems related to a build-up of toxins in the body. These toxins typically come from the environment (such as pesticides, metals, and solvents from household products). Toxins that accumulate in their body can amount to additional behavioral problems, as well as lead to chronic illnesses. Therefore, it is essential to limit children to these exposures as much as possible. Gentle nutrient medicines can also reduce toxins in the body.

Although speech and behavioral therapies are critical to an autistic child’s development, it is now more evident that the child also deserves additional care in other aspects. By focusing on the child’s nutrition and their environment, changes can be made to help improve their behavior and symptoms that may be affecting them.

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