While there has not been one definitive cause nor cure identified to date, there are a number of interventions that have been shown to successfully reduce the incidence of autistic symptoms and even more so, treat the potential underlying causes of many presentations within the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) population.
The use of biomedical interventions in an individual on the spectrum of autistic disorder has varying responses in different individuals and is only one of many considerations of their care. Other areas that often require attention and consideration are speech therapy, behavioral therapy, sensory integration, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
As there are numerous areas to consider, a systematic assessment and individualized treatment will expedite the potential for a positive response and determine if any given intervention is having a therapeutic benefit.
Dietary interventions have proven time and time again to offer the broadest impact on individuals and are often one of the first areas we consider; this includes improvement from the standard American diet to the gluten-free and dairy-free diet. An adjunct to dietary considerations is the assessment and treatment of dietary and other allergies; these often exacerbate symptoms as well as potentially cause additive negative effects in the immediate sense as well as long-term.
One of the reasons we often start with the digestive and nutritive system is that if an organism is unable to absorb the basic nutrients to sustain normal growth and development, any other area of support will be relegated by this need. Another reason is there are often symptoms present (abdominal pain presenting as a constant need to press the abdomen against something like the back of a chair or couch, self-injurious behavior, difficulty swallowing, projectile vomiting, intractable constipation or diarrhea) which can have profound impact on the quality of life yet can easily remedied by avoiding problematic food items, once identified.
Second to dietary considerations, nutritional support is an important aspect due to the common genetic and metabolic differences in the ASD population. This includes basic as well as high-dose supplementation of common vitamins and minerals (vitamins B6, B12, D, E, folate, Co-enzyme Q 10, calcium, magnesium, etc), amino acids (tyrosine, phenylalanine, GABA, etc) and fatty acids (DHA, EPA, GLA). As each nutrient deficiency can present with numerous symptoms, in turn, each nutrient can treat specific symptoms quite well.
From a genetic perspective, methylation disorders are also very common areas requiring attention. Methylation is a complex and interwoven process that involves a number of systems in the body, particularly DNA expression and repair. It is with methylation that our genes are expressed and interpreted the right way which enables normal brain function, normal cellular metabolism and so much more.
The mitochondria are tiny energy-making components of our cells that are responsible for the energy production each and every cell in the body uses for its day to day functions. Mitochondrial problems can present as poor muscle tone, low energy, poor cellular detoxification ability, adrenal and thyroid disorders, seizure and other neurologic disorders, and an increase in infection tendencies.
Basic support with items as simple as probiotics and digestive enzymes can have a profound impact on the symptoms such as gas and bloating, constipation, diarrhea, pain and many others. Another area that is often considered and addressed is that of latent infections. There are often bacterial overgrowth patterns, excessive yeast or other problems than can be easily managed once identified and treated.
Detoxification ability varies on genetics and disorders or limitations in these areas, as well as exposures from our environment; whether by excess burden or reduced ability to clear day to day exposures, either can have a more significant impact in this population than in others. Evaluation of detoxification ability and toxic burden can further improve the health of an individual on the Autism Spectrum and enhance specificity of therapeutic efforts.
These are just a few of the main considerations yet the biomedical support for the ASD population is multidisciplinary, including but not limited to specialist evaluations in gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurologic, genetic, metabolic, psychological fields of medicine.