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Encyclopedia > Biomedical intervention for autism

Biomedical intervention for autism consists of a wide range of therapeutic approaches for treating - and some say curing - autism in children, adolescents, and possibly adults. The basis for this form of intervention is a restrictive diet that allows for normal absorption of nutrients; but a number of accompanying therapies are also popular. Opponents, among them many autistics, don't believe these therapies actually treat autism but rather conditions comorbid to autism.

Contents


History

Bernard Rimland, a psychologist and parent of an autistic son, early speculated that his son's autism was the result of genes and perhaps a shock to several physiological systems. Autism is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder which manifests itself in markedly abnormal social interaction, communication ability, patterns of interests, and patterns of behavior. ...


Dr. Rimland experimented with eliminating certain kinds of food and found that by eliminating casein and gluten from his son's diet, autistic symptoms were reduced. This gave rise to the notion of the "leaky gut" cause of autism, in which the gastrointestinal walls have been compromised, allowing for incompletely broken down and thereby toxic [1] [2] protein chains to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Casein is the predominant phosphoprotein found in fresh milk. ... Wheat - a prime source of gluten Gluten is an amorphous ergastic protein found combined with starch in the endosperm of some cereals, notably wheat, rye, and barley. ... A representation of the 3D structure of myoglobin, showing coloured alpha helices. ...


Sidney Baker, MD, Maureen McDonnell, and other healthcare practitioners used Dr. Rimland's observations to develop the DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) protocol. While the DAN doctors operate outside the mainstream medical community, they have attracted a growing number of pediatricians, neurologists, allergists, nutritionists, and others to develop and refine their approaches.


In addition, parents are increasingly active in assessing a wide range of approaches to help their autistic children. A large and growing number of online communities are constantly exchanging information and ideas to further the state of biomedical intervention as treatment for autism and related disorders.


Conceptual foundations

The premise for biomedical intervention is that at least some autistic children have been made sick in a way that prevents their nervous system from functioning properly. They allegedly have great difficulties sorting out sensory impressions and are prone to hyper- or hyposensitivity to impressions from their sense of sight, hearing, smell, touch, propreoception, or balance.


The premise for this model is that environmental shocks have caused a syndrome that includes some autistic traits and other health problems, ranging from gastrointestinal problems to allergies, etc.


Proponents of biomedical intervention claim that autistic children:

  • Are consistently compromised in three essential systems:
    • Gastrointestinal, in that they tend toward constipation or diarrhea and often have abnormal cravings for certain kinds of food
    • Immunological, in that they are prone to allergies, migraines, and react abnormally to infectious diseases
    • Neurological, in that they are consistently hypo- or hypersensitive to sensory impressions
  • Generally improve in all three systems with a restrictive diet
  • Will present with regression if there is an infraction against the restrictive diet

A major problem with the model is that the above problems do not appear in the autism diagnostic criteria but are rather comorbid conditions. In medicine and in psychiatry, comorbidity refers to: The presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder. ...


These people's hypothesise that autistic children allegedly have a "leaky gut" that allows compounds into the bloodstream that are fully broken apart in typical children. They have attempted to draw parallels between autistic children and patients with celiac disease and other gastrointestinal disorders. Coeliac disease (also termed non-tropical sprue, celiac disease and gluten intolerance) is an autoimmune disease characterised by chronic inflammation of the proximal portion of the small intestine caused by exposure to certain dietary gluten proteins. ...


Restrictive diet

As a result, biomedical intervention usually starts with a restrictive diet, such as the gluten-free, casein-free diet. Typically, foods will be restricted in a particular sequence, for example by eliminating: Many parents of children with autism have reported that a gluten-free casein-free diet helps their children. ...

  1. Dairy products - casein and/or lactose
  2. Gluten, found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, etc.
  3. Eggs, nuts, and berries that are known provoke allergic reactions in children
  4. Fruits and vegetables that contain salicylates, phenols, and other substances that may cause a reaction
  5. All artificially colored food, i.e., the Feingold Diet
  6. All bi- and poly-saccharides, such as lactose, fructose, starch, etc. (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet)

Parents report varying success with these diets, and combinations of them. Some have seen a complete recovery simply from eliminating milk; others need to eliminate salicylates or phenols to reach a tipping point; others have found a workable, effective diet in the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Others report no benefit from a restrictive diet at all. Casein is the predominant phosphoprotein found in fresh milk. ... Lactose is a disaccharide that makes up around 2-8% of the solids in milk. ... Wheat - a prime source of gluten Gluten is an amorphous ergastic protein found combined with starch in the endosperm of some cereals, notably wheat, rye, and barley. ... The neutrality of this article is disputed. ...


Nutritional supplements

Because the gastrointestinal system is presumed to have been compromised in autistic children, many parents and medical professionals find it necessary to give their children nutritional supplements. The range of supplements given to autistic children undergoing biomedical intervention is wide, but can be categorized as follows:

  • Vitamins - in particular:
    • B-complex vitamins, such as B12, B6, etc. This also includes Vitamin B derivatives, such as TMG, P5P, etc.
    • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin A
    • Others, in RDA doses
  • Minerals - in particular
    • Calcium
    • Zinc
    • Magnesium
    • Other trace minerals, such as Molybdenum, etc.
  • Essential fatty acids, provided in supplements such as
    • Fish liver oil
    • Borage oil
    • Flax seed oil
  • Probiotics - there is some controversy about the benefits and potential harm of some bacteria strains vs. others, but most agree that acidophilus is required.
  • Anti-yeast supplements - parents report mixed success with antifungal medication, but are more enthusiastic about natural remedies such as:
    • Garlic
    • Caprylic acid
    • Grapefruit seed extract
    • Products such as Biocidin

"Alternative" therapies

While some children seem to benefit from a restrictive diet and careful use of nutritional supplements, there is more variation in other, so-called "alternative" medical approaches. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Applied kinesiology. Combining acupressure and chiropractic, kinesiologists de-sensitize children to substances to which they're sensitive. Applied kinesiology also activates organs and systems through touch and pressure, strengthening the body's systems.
  • Chelation. By introducing agents that help remove heavy metals from the children's bodies, it is hoped that the underlying cause for their disorder is remedied. Chelation may also remove essential minerals and must be administered with great care.

It has been suggested that Diagnostic kinesiology be merged into this article or section. ... Chelation (from Greek χηλή, chelè, meaning claw) is the process of reversible binding of a ligand, the chelant, chelator or chelating agent, to a metal ion, forming a metal complex, the chelate. ...

External links

  • AutismNDI.com - 'Autism Network for Dietary Intervention'
  • Feingold.org - 'Trouble may begin in the grocery cart!' Feingold Diet
  • PecanBread.com - 'Kids and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet'
  • SCDiet - 'Specific Carbohydrate Diet Web Library'
  • ThoughtfulHouse.com - 'Nutrition Counseling', Thoughtful House
  • Virginia.edu - 'Autism and Secretin'
  • Parents push for autism cure - MSNBC news article
  • Cure autism? - An autistic explains his skepticism
Pervasive developmental disorders / Autistic spectrum
Diagnoses
Autism | Asperger syndrome | Autistic enterocolitis | Childhood disintegrative disorder | Conditions comorbid to autism | Fragile X syndrome | Rett syndrome | PDD-NOS | Sensory Integration Dysfunction | Multiple-complex Developmental Disorder
Controversy
Andrew Wakefield | Incidence | An epidemic? | Autism rights movement | Biomedical intervention | Causes | Chelation | Generation Rescue | Heritability | Neurodiversity | Refrigerator mother | Therapies
See also: List of autism-related topics

 
 

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