Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. In addition, they demonstrate stereotypic behaviors such as hand flapping, spinning, or toe walking. Autism is in a group of developmental disorders known as the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Other ASDs include Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Delay-Not Otherwise Specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Although not officially part of ASD, we would add Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without hyperactivity) to this list to make up what we call the learning disorder spectrum. Children who have ADHD frequently display some of the same biochemistry and respond to the same nutrient interventions as do children who have ASD.
There has been a rapid and concerning increase in the incidence of ASD. There has been much work in the field of genetics to identify anomalies that may cause ASD. Over one hundred genetic anomalies have been identified that are linked with ASD so far. However, if genetics were the sole cause of ASD, we would not see the alarming rise in its incidence. Genetics alone don’t cause epidemics. Epidemics occur when genetic vulnerabilities are assaulted by environmental changes — introductions of a new virus, a new bacteria, or a new toxin. The rate of a solely genetic disorder should stay constant over time. There is a much more sophisticated understanding if the relationship between genes and environment that has come to the forefront—a field called “Genomics”. Genomics recognizes that the genetic blue print is only a set of possibilities—it is the interaction of those genes with the environment that determines how a person develops. With that in mind, a number of pioneering physicians and research scientists have been looking at ASD to find what environmental factors may play a role in the development of ASD and whether manipulating these factors could reverse the process and actually recover a child with ASD. This is known as the “Bio-Medical” approach to the treatment of ASD and has been championed by groups such as Defeat Autism Now. This approach is what we use at Bio Energy Medical Center to treat our patients who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In using this type of approach, one must act as a medical detective and look beneath the surface to the underlying root problems that often result in the misclassified, misunderstood, dooming diagnosis of autism. Autism is still classified as strictly a psychiatric disorder, but that’s a diagnostic error. It certainly doesn’t start from emotional problems. It starts from physical harm to the brain. Therefore, it’s actually a neurological disorder. More specifically, it’s a neurotoxic disorder, because it’s caused primarily by the presence of destructive elements that injured the brain: toxic chemicals, viruses, incomplete proteins, inflammation, immune cells that attack the brain. These harmful forces wreak havoc upon the brain, and also cause terrible damage to the rest of the body. They are especially damaging to the very sensitive gastrointestinal system and immune systems of young children. That it why I consider autism to be a three-faceted illness, with direct damage to: the immune system, gastrointestinal system, and the nervous system. After these three systems have been damaged, they begin to further injure one another, in a vicious spiral of interwoven destruction. This destruction includes: inflammation of the brain and gut, viral infiltration of the brain and gut, severe nutritional deficiencies, food reactions that have neurological consequences, autoimmune attacks upon the brain and body, immune system over activity and under activity, and undernourished muscle tissue.
Bio Energy Medical Center uses the Bio-Medical approach to the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder—which covers a range of abnormalities. We look at the interaction of the child and their environment and find out what factors exist and then try to manipulate those factors. The first area of interest lies in the digestive tract. It has been known since autism was first described that most of these children have issues with their digestion. These range from simple stomach upset and bloating to severe, explosive diarrhea. Dietary changes frequently are the first step in treating ASD. Approaches include gluten and casein free diet, a rotation diet, a specific carbohydrate diet, or a low oxalate diet. Gluten and casein are proteins found in grains (especially wheat) and dairy, respectively. They appear to be an issue of ASD children on two fronts. First, many children have delayed-type hypersensitivity to these proteins—in essence, they are allergic to them. Secondly, these proteins are broken down into intermediates that act like opiates—altering behavior and contributing to the children’s separation from their environment. Over 60% of ASD children improved with this diet alone based on parent reporting. The rotation diet is based on a child’s individual food sensitivities. We perform blood testing to determine a child’s sensitivity profile and make recommendations on these results. The specific carbohydrate diet can aid children that have issues with intestinal candidiasis (yeast) or sugar sensitivities. The low oxalate diet can be helpful with children that remain agitated despite other interventions or if there is any evidence of joint problems. If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. We try to tailor a child’s diet to his or her specific issues based on history, observation, and some testing.
The second area of importance for children with ASD is the arena of methylation and sulfation. These describe biochemical processes that are essential for detoxification and energy production. Children with ASD appear to be deficient in one or both of these areas. Because of this, they are much more sensitive to environmental toxins than are unaffected children. If an unaffected child is presented with an environmental toxin such as a pesticide residue, their sulfation mechanisms with take care of the problem. A child with ASD that has a problem with this system will be unable to process the same toxin without causing other problems. The ASD child will have to “rob Peter to pay Paul” - methylation and sulfation components will be stolen from energy production in order to assist with detoxification. The net result will be a cell that cannot function properly. The brain is particularly sensitive to this process. If these changes occur in an adult, they will experience “brain fog” and fatigue. If they occur in a child with a developing brain, they will result in delayed or regressed development and behavioral problems. Treatment involves identifying the toxins in the child’s environment, removal of those toxins from both the environment and the child, and nutritional support to promote or supplement these systems. Much of the biochemical testing we do at Bio Energy is designed to identify these toxins and metabolic abnormalities.
A third area of concern with ASD children is the immune system and the syndrome of chronic infections. Many ASD children have problems with recurrent infections with strep or other common organisms. One recent study demonstrated almost 60% of ASD children tested positive for Mycoplasma (a common atypical bacterial infection) while only 5% of unaffected children tested positive. A positive or negative result was based on the presence or absence of the bacterial DNA in the child’s blood using an extremely sensitive technique called PCR. There were similar results when these children were tested for Chlymadia pneumonia and Human Herpes Virus 6. This would suggest that some part of the ASD child’s immune system is not functioning properly. In addition, many ASD children have abnormal stool cultures showing many potentially disease causing (pathogenic) organisms as well as a lack of healthy bacteria. There are a number of stool and blood tests that we perform to try to identify and treat these organisms.
Another issue with ASD children is heavy metal toxicity. Many ASD children have elevated levels of lead, mercury, and other toxic metals when tested appropriately. A large percentage of children with ASD will show improvement withchelation (the process of removing these metals using compounds that bind them and remove them from the body). Most chelators we use also have the added benefit of being excellent supporters of the sulfation processes we discussed earlier. At Bio Energy, we use both urine challenge testing (use of chelators to pull the metals out of stored organs and tissues) as well as hair analysis to determine who might benefit from chelation therapy. Children that demonstrate issues with sulfation may also be prescribed chelation in an effort to improve that function as well.
CEASE therapy stands for Complete Elimination Autism Spectrum Expression and Modern Disease. CEASE therapy focuses on individual treatment customized to each patient, with an emphasis on resolving digestive issues, improving brain function, and emotional and mental healing. Dr. Uma, on staff at Bio Energy Medical Center, is one of the few certified CEASE practitioners in the United States. This form of therapy may be incorporated into your child's treatment here at Bio Energy Medical Center.
Nothing we do at Bio Energy Medical Center in the treatment of ASD is intended to replace the usual ABA, PT/OT/Speech therapies of traditional medicine. At the end of the day, ASD children have problems processing their environment. They need to be taught the most basic issues of life, social interaction, and appropriate behavior. The Bio-Medical approaches are intended to allow this learning to occur, not replace the process of teaching. The same is true of medications. We will do everything we can to identify and correct reasons why a child is agitated and misbehaving; however, sometimes medication is the only way for a child to calm down enough to learn.
Bio Energy Medical Center strives to be thorough in our approach to the child with ASD. This begins with parents filling out a thorough history of the child’s development, history, and previous therapies that have been tried. We ask that this be done a few weeks in advance of the initial evaluation so that Dr. Neuenschwander (Dr. Neu) can read it in advance. The actual appointment is scheduled for an hour and a half. This will allow Dr. Neu to get a complete history and observe the child in action. Based on these ingredients, Dr. Neu will recommend further testing and or dietary changes and supplements.
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