Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) such as autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and Asperger disorder are very complex brain disorders resulting in problems with social skills, overall communication and repetitive or patterned behaviors. According to the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities it is estimated, “that if 4 million children are born in the United States every year, approximately 24,000 of these children will eventually be diagnosed with an ASD.” This is based on the fact that the prevalence of the diagnosis of these disorders is between 2-6 per 1,000 children. The cause is not yet known, but extensive research looking at various aspects of the disorders is currently taking place. It is known that the various forms of autism are a result of the malfunction of brain cells (neurons) and communication (neurotransmitters) to and from the brain cells. It is theorized to develop in the womb from possibly genetics, or as a result of the health of the mother and the fetus during pregnancy, or possibly even from a lack of oxygen during the delivery of the fetus. Researchers are looking into other environmental factors as well. The malfunction within these neural networks (brain cell communication) can occur from the neurons migrating to the wrong place in the brain, from problems with the neural pathways or neurotransmitters, from interference, or simply from a failure to perform… hence, the complex and perplexing nature of the disorder.
The severities of the diagnosis vary, and no one child with autism reacts the same as another. This will explain the category of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Children with autism experience extreme sensitivities, some to sound, to touch, to sight and to smell. This may tell us: why some of the behavioral problems occur when one is trying to hug a child with a form of autism, why some of the children are picky eaters, why some of the children may have extreme tantrums in public places such as the grocery store, etc. It is also thought that some of the repetitive or patterned behaviors (like rocking back and forth) may be a way for the child to tune out certain stimuli. Since many children that suffer from autism fail to develop language skills, communication is very difficult. On top of which, autistic children have problems deciphering facial expressions and emotions, as well as relating their own, leading them to extreme frustration when attempting to communicate a need.
Note, however, that within this puzzling and challenging condition there is hope. Temple Grandin was a young child diagnosed with autism at the age of 6 months (with all of the major symptoms: lack of communication, withdrawn from social interaction and hypersensitivities) during a time when institutionalization was the only suggested answer. Her mother, despite the doctor’s suggestions, chose to put Temple in a school that specialized in speech and communication therapy. She did learn how to speak by age 4 and was able to attend regular schools throughout her life, as well as obtain a doctoral degree in animal science. Yes, every case is different, but there are degrees of success. It is important to know that with early diagnosis much can be done. The brain not only develops the entire time it is in the womb, but is still in a very active developmental stage during the first year of life. It is important for mothers who are expecting to make sure they themselves or their little ones get all of the required amounts of carbohydrates, vitamins & minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids. In addition, it is important for babies to be introduced to new stimuli (visual, auditory, touch and smell). Sometimes people choose not to take their babies to places like the zoo, a children’s musical or have them participate in other outdoor or social activities because they feel that the baby won’t know what is going on or that they won’t remember it, but it is very important for brain development and socialization.
Currently the medications used on those suffering from ASDs are not specific to the disorders, they were created to address other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety or ADD/ADHD, etc; and may be associated with having adverse side effects. As a natural approach, Vitamin B6 is being taken with magnesium to help stimulate brain activity. Also, essential fatty acids, especially omega 3 essential fatty acids are being used to enhance brain functioning. Although we don’t know the exact cause of autism and autistic related learning disorders, we do know that it has to do with communication and functioning of the brain. We can take that information and use it in determining what supplements and homeopathics can help with the stimulation of neural networks and new neurological growth