Although there is no known cause for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) some researchers have discovered that the atlas, or top vertebra of the neck, is often slipped laterally in children with ASD (1). Because of its proximity to the brain-stem, removing any interference at that level will lower the overall stress in a child's nervous system. For all children, but especially for those with ASD, a gentle, safe chiropractic method is paramount. Activator Chiropractic is the most safe, gentle and effective chiropractic technique.
Underlying Cause of ASD?
Much of the latest research associated with ASD points to this waterfall effect:
Problem-Eating Behaviors -->
Poor Nutrition -->
Abnormal Gut Bacteria (dysbiosis) -->
Leaky Gut Syndrome -->
Food sensitivities -->
Altered brain function caused by
a.) Inflammation (Immune reaction to sensitivities/allergies)
b.) Brain sensitive chemicals produced by "bad" bacteria (2)
New Treatment Shows Positive Results
The onset of autism is often accompanied by GI complaints and preceded by antibiotic use. Both of these indicate an abnormal gut microbiome (bacteria populating gut). In a recent study 13 children with autism were analyzed and compared with nine children without the disease. The children with autism were found to have similar bacterial populations. Two of the children with autism underwent Fecal Microbiota Transplant Therapy, where their gut was implanted with bacteria from a healthy person. Both children showed improvement in their autistic symptoms. Five children with autism who received daily probiotics Bacteroidetes and Clostridia for several weeks, also showed improvement in symptoms. (3)
Reduce Toxin Exposure
Research showns that sensitivities to environmental toxins, food additives and certain foods is associated with ASD. Avoiding toxins is a good idea for all of us, but critical for those with sensitive systems such as those with ASD. Easier said that done as we live in a soup of chemical irritants such as car exhaust, pesticides, fertilizers and cleaners. But it is possible to reduce the toxic load by using natural products around the house, avoiding processed foods and eating whole organic foods. (4)
Simple Detoxification: To support the liver's detoxification pathways, drink lots of water, especially lemon water and eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, and Chinese cabbage, arugula, horse radish, radish, wasabi, and watercress.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
The greatest source of inflammation in all people, regardless of their sensitivity is spikes in blood sugar - either low blood sugar or high blood sugar. Avoid sugary foods including fruit juices. Whole fruits are OK because they are slightly slower to digest. Food allergies and food sensitivities also cause inflammation. To identify food allergies and sensitivities, a blood test or elimination diet are both helpful. The two most common food sensitivities are dairy and wheat. So those are the first to experiment with eliminating. But it's important to make sure the child is getting enough calcium, either through supplementation or eating lots of green leafy vegetables.(4)
Digestive enzymes are produced in the gut and increase the speed of breakdown of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Taking additional digestive enzymes that break down gluten and dairy may decrease inflammation and increase nutrient absorption.(4)
Because many children with ASD have poor nutrition due to problem-eating behaviors, supplementation with these specific nutrients has been shown to be helpful: Omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins, vitamin D3, vitamin B-complex and magnesium (4).
Children who received a supplement of the bacteria Bacteroidetes and Clostridia showed an improvement in autism symptoms.(3) The phylum Bacteroidetes are widely distributed in the environment, including in soil, sediments, and sea water, as well as in the guts and on the skin of animals. Clostridia are also widely found in soil. So supplementation of these probiotics is unnecessary if the child is allowed to play in the dirt and have a pet! Antibiotics kill beneficial gut bacteria, so restoring the microbiome is best done by increasing the foods that bacteria need to grown - fiber. Then allow the child to be exposed to the earth and animals.
An estimated 50% to 80% of children with autism spectrum disorders suffer from sleep difficulties (5). Several studies have found that people with autism have lower levels of melatonin than those without autism (6). An review of 18 studies of people with autism (mostly children between the ages of 2- 18) found that melatonin supplementation (in doses ranging from 0.75 mg to 25 mg daily) significantly improved the time it took to fall asleep and sleep duration, and, in some individuals, also improved daytime behavior (6).
Parents must first arm themselves with information then find strategies that assure their child is getting adequate nutrition. Research shows that specific methods are helpful including a sequential oral sensory approach or an applied behavior-analytic approach.(7) By managing nutrition and sensitivities parents are the first line of defense in the effort to reduce the symptoms of autism. (8)
(1) Austism: A chirorpactic perspective, Jennings J., Clinical Chiropractic, March 2006
(2) Gut Bacteria May Play a Role in Autism, Scientific American: 2014
(3) Fecal microbiota transplantation: past, present and future, Aroniadis O., Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, January 2013
(4) Autism Spectrum Disorder — Research Suggests Good Nutrition May Manage Symptoms, Privett D., Today’s Dietitian, January 2013
(5) Melatonin for Sleep in Children with Autism: A Controlled Trial Examining Dose, Tolerability, and Outcomes, Malow J., Autism Dev Disord, 2013
(6) Melatonin in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Rossignol, Dev Med Child Neurol, 2011
(7) A comparison of a modified sequential oral sensory approach to an applied behavior-analytic approach in the treatment of food selectivity in children with autism spectrum disorders, Peterson K., Applied Behavioral Analysis, 23 July 2016, .
(8) Effects of Behavioral Skills Training on Parental Treatment of Children's Food Selectivity, Seiverling L., J Appl Behav Anal., 2012 Spring