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Autism Treatment – Thyroid Evaluation and Autism

Posted on 08 January 2012 by admin

Thyroid Evaluation and Autism

The thyroid gland is an important gland in our body with respects to metabolism. It really helps with energy production throughout the body. Whether it’s our immune system, our cardiovascular system including our heart, or our lungs, bones, gut, or brain, without good thyroid output, we tend to run deficits in energy production. In many kids on the Autism spectrum, we know that there are underlying medical problems which contribute to many of their issues. We know that research points to the fact that there are methylation chemistry problems which can affect attention and focusing, we know there are mitochondrial imbalances with can influence negatively metabolism throughout the body and energy production as well. We know that there can be immune system imbalances, digestive problems, and more.

One of the things that doesn’t get a lot of attention is thyroid imbalances. The thyroid is often either not assessed or under assessed with respect to Autism. In patients with various mental health problems, like depression or bipolar disorder, many times thyroid dysfunction is a contributing factor and often optimizing thyroid function helps to really improve the overall mental and physical health status of patients. It’s important to be aware of the importance of thyroid function in Autism as something to assess for your child’s overall health.

If you are doing a blood chemistry test or any type of blood testing for your child, make sure that your doctor includes a thyroid panel. Specifically, look at TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, free T4, and free T3. These are important because the free fraction of those hormones, specifically free T3, is what is acting physiologically at the cellular level. You can also add what is called a reverse T3. If the body is producing a lot of reverse T3, it will actually inhibit thyroid function as well, and that can often go undiagnosed.

As an Autism Specialist, I like to see the free T4 and free T3 in the upper 2/3rds of normal in its reference range. If they are low, I recommend using a natural thyroid such as Westhroid or Armour Thyroid to try and replenish thyroid function. That is not something necessarily we do forever, but sometimes 6 months to a year just to see if we can re-establish thyroid function. Often times, it helps with energy, brain function, cognitive function and even growth.

So again, the thyroid is something important to assess and I recommend that any parent who is having their child be assessed by a physician with respects to blood work make sure you include a thyroid panel, free T4 and free T3. A couple other things that you could add to that panel to rule out that an auto-immune process may be occurring is something called anti-TPO and an anti-thyroid globulin antibodies. If there are antibodies being produced to the thyroid gland, then that indicates that there is some type of auto-immune process that is likely affecting the thyroid adversely. Including these elements would be a complete thyroid panel. But minimally the TSH, free T3 and free T4 are critically important to look at.

Thyroid

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Autism Treatment – Autism Research and Brain Inflammation

Posted on 08 January 2012 by admin

Microglia Activation–Brain Inflammation and Autism

Brain Inflammation, or neroulogical inflammation, with respects to Autism, has been the topic of a tremendous amount of research out of Johns Hopkins University and other research facilities. Emerging research shows that in Autism, there tends to be a higher prevalence of neuro-inflammatory markers likely affecting individuals on the Autism spectrum more adversely.

In short, there is a cell in the brain or a system in the brain called microglia. Microglia is a part of the immune system function of the brain and the central nervous system. In many individuals with Autism, there appears to be what’s called microglia activation where the microglia become activated, but don’t turn off. They can become activated from a virus or bacteria. They can become activated from a potential chemical reaction. There’s been some cases where it’s shown that certain vaccines may be a contributing factor to microglia activation.

When the system doesn’t turn off, it leads to chronic inflammation and essentially the destruction of what are called synapses. Synapses are the small spaces between nerve cells where neuro-chemicals are transferred from one nerve cell to the next as a communication link. So, we get a chemical reaction across the synapse creating an electrical chemical reaction in the corresponding nerve cell. So, anything that is going to affect the synapse will essentially affect chemical transportation from one brain region to the next and electrical impulse activation in the brain as well.

There isn’t just one thing that causes microglia activation, but it is something that should be on your radar. It is something to consider for your child on the Autism spectrum, something that may be a contributing factor to their overall condition. Whether you feel your child had a vaccine reaction, whether they had an infection at some point where things just never returned to normal, or they’ve had chronic immune problems throughout their life like food sensitivities, gut problems, etc, you could be looking at the potential for microglia activation.

microglia activation

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Autism Treatment – Behavior Changes in Treating Autism

Posted on 12 December 2011 by admin

Behavior Changes

A number of factors can impact behavior in children with Autism, and working on resolving behavior changes means isolating some factors of the behavior. When is the behavior issue occurring? Is it occurring before going to school or in the morning or happening when your child gets home from school? Is it happening at school? In the therapy sessions? Before bedtime? Has there been some type of change in their daily routine?

I’ve often had kids who’ve had behavior changes because they’re in a classroom and a new child comes into the classroom that they either don’t like or they’re not getting along with or there is some type of conflict. It can even be a result of a new therapist or a new teacher.

Behavior changes can break down to something in their daily routine. Has there been some sort of change in their diet? Eating new foods or taking certain foods away that your child likes certainly can contribute to behavioral problems. Have you added a new supplement? Often times, changes in behavior occur when new supplements are added. Often times people will add too many supplements at one time instead of spacing them out every two to three days when introducing a new thing. Supplements sometimes can cause problems.

So you really have to be a detective in what is actually happening with your child and how long has that behavior change been occurring. Keep a journal on your child’s behavior changes to help you establish patterns. Has it been over a couple days or a couple weeks? Really try to piece together what may be going on, and keep in mind it may not be biomedical. It could be situational.

By the way, if it is something that might be tied to supplements, generally what I do is isolate which supplements have been added since the behavioral change started. Then, I recommend taking all of those new supplements out. Wait four to five days and see if the behavioral change shifts. Reintroduce those supplements one at a time, maybe sometimes at half a dose, and take implementation slower because just that change alone may be enough for your child to handle whatever new program you are putting them on.

Behavior Changes

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Autism Treatment – Helicobacter Pylori and Autism

Posted on 13 November 2011 by admin

Let’s talk about something called Helicobacter pylori and Autism or H Pylori. H. Pylori is a bacteria that has been responsible for the development of stomach ulcers. We know that kids on the Autism spectrum seem to have a lot of gut problems, including bacterial imbalances, yeast problems, and digestive problems in general. So, they seem to have a greater susceptibility of these types of infections, as well as susceptibility of behavioral problems associated with these infections whether it’s self stimulatory behavior that is driven by yeast, or aggressive behavior that is exacerbated by the presence of clostridia bacteria.

Helicobacter Pylori found in children on the Autism Spectrum typically tends to aggravate the stomach and alters stomach acid production which can affect digestive enzyme function in the small intestine. It leads to poor digestion, malabsorption, and can trigger food allergies or food sensitivities. It can also lead to stomach pain, acid reflux, gastritis and overall discomfort in the upper intestinal area, particularly after eating.

A lot of kids will actually avoid meat because it’s just hard to digest, and that can be an indicator that Helicobacter Pylori may be a problem. So I want you to think about Helicobacter Pylori as another type of infection that may be affecting your child’s digestive system and affecting the way they digest food.

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Autism Treatment – Using Methylation Chemistry for Autism Treatment

Posted on 02 October 2011 by admin

Methylation is a vital biochemical reaction in the body that supports the cardiovascular, hormone, immune, and detoxification systems, DNA/RNA structure and function, and other key metabolic system controlling energy production. It is commonly a problem in many autistic-spectrum individuals. There are some effective therapies, namely methylcobolamin therapy (injection, oral, sublingual), as well as other methylation supplements such as DMG and TMG.

The two most referenced chemical reactions in this methylation system are Re-methylation and Trans-Sulfuration.

Re-Methylation (or methylation) – this pathway involves the conversion of Homocysteine to Methionine. Methionine is a rate-limiting step for the production of other necessary chemicals which affect the heart and blood vessels, muscle tissue, immune and nervous system. The conversion of homocysteine to methionine can occur by direct transference of a methyl (CH3) groups from Methylcobalamin (B12) or betaine (trimethylglycine or TMG).

Homocysteine sits at a junction of two different biochemical reactions. Because of its position in this biochemical matrix it has the capacity to impact all methylation and sulfur group transference metabolic processes in the body. The most recognized impact of homocysteine is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease. However, in individuals with autism its impact affects other functions as well particularly cognition including concentration, attention, and language.

Trans-Sulfuration – this pathway involves degrading homocysteine to two different amino acids – taurine and cysteine. Taurine is most commonly known for cardiac support and liver support, detoxification, bile acid formation and cholesterol excretion. Cysteine has direct influence on glutathione production. Glutathione is a potent anti-oxidant and has broad reaching effects on the DNA/RNA protection, heavy metal detoxification, and immune function. Many children on the autistic-spectrum have deficiencies of both taurine and cysteine.

There are many intermediary steps involved in these two important biochemical reactions. Envision a wheel that is constantly spinning in a clockwise fashion. Homocysteine is at 6 o’clock and Methionine is at 12 o’clock. The goal is to get from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock, and then from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock. This keeps the wheel spinning in the right direction. Certain other chemicals will impact upon this wheel at specific points. If any one of these intermediary steps is blocked than the wheel slows down or stops. This causes a backlog of chemical information that has deleterious effects on our overall health.

Methylcobolamin, activated Folic Acid (called methyl-folate), and Betaine (TMG) are responsible for taking homocysteine from 6 o’clock to methionine at 12 o’clock. If one system is faulty (methylcobolamin/Folic acid) than betaine (TMG) can help out. SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine) the body’s “universal methyl donor” helps take methionine from 12 o’clock to homocysteine at 6 o’clock. Along the way other important chemicals are being spun off in different directions to support the many dependent biochemical reactions in the body.

The problem with many autistic individuals is that this system does not operate properly severely compromising their immune, nervous, and detoxification systems. The impact can be enormous including increased chronic infections, inability to detoxify their body of chemicals and heavy metal toxins, and neuro-cognitive problems such as language processing, attention, focusing, and concentration. There appears to be a genetic component with many autistic individuals for having a problem with this methylation and trans-sulfuration chemisty. However, for many the problem does not become manifest until their system is negatively impacted upon from nutritional deficiencies, digestive problems from yeast, bacteria, parasites, malabsorption from digestive imbalances, heavy metal toxins from vaccines or environmental exposures.

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Autism Treatment – How Music Therapy Helps In Treating Autism

Posted on 11 September 2011 by admin

Musical therapy is gaining acceptance in the field of treatments for autism. Individuals on the autism-spectrum who receive music therapy will often have improvement in overall temperament and learning abilities. I recently saw a young boy who loved the Beatles. Hearing their music has helped with his behavior and willingness to communicate. Other individuals have responded in similar ways to other types of music. Music makes connections to the non-verbal part of our brain making it a perfect therapy for disorders in which the person has trouble communicating. This is why it is a perfect fit for autism.

Music therapy has been used in conjunction to help with learning skills. Classical music often playing in the background has been shown to help with mental processing for math and complex problems, but more importantly in autism music in general provides a non-threatening medium for people while playing games that help to improve social and behavior skills. For example, by encouraging eye contact while singing or using musical instruments that need to be held close to the face musical therapy can help autistic individuals break social barriers. In short, music is fun and engaging.

The main thing that music therapy has been shown to help with is the development of speech and communication skills. Music has the ability to connect the verbal and non-verbal functions in the brain. This is critical in autism as speech difficulties are so significant. In the beginning certain individuals may be only able to hum, grunt or make non-word noises while others will babble phrases of verses. The little boy who was a Beatles fan learned to pronounce the famous line “we all live in a Yellow Submarine…” Autistic individuals will often gain the capability to put phrases and sentences together in attempts to communicate with other people. No matter how skilled the individual is with speech, they can participate in musical therapy by clapping to the beat of the song, humming along, or doing simple echoing sounds. It doesn’t really matter just getting them involved in music can make powerful transformations.

Individuals on the autism spectrum are commonly found to be good at music. Some people have perfect pitch, while others may play a particular instrument very well. Even if they show no genius musical ability by common standards you may find that a particularly person has abilities in music that exceed his or her other abilities. A musical therapist can use music as a way to link this kind of learning with other kinds of learning skills such as communicating emotions or improving memory. Trained professionals can use music to teach children and others how to communicate in nonverbal ways, making it easier for patients to learn.

However, music doesn’t need to be reserved for a therapy or a classroom setting. Play music in the home and/or car as a way to introduce new sounds, instruments, and voices into the auditory world for an autistic individual. Break out those Beatles albums and you never know what might emerge for a person on the spectrum. They too may find their favorite Beatles song and learn to sign and communicate in a way they never have before.

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AutismTreatment – Digestive, Allergy, and Behavioral Problems

Posted on 06 September 2011 by admin

Ongoing digestive problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and reflux are often seen in clinical practice with individuals needing autism treatment. Recently, attention has been turned to an opportunistic intestinal infection called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Dr. Amy Yasko has been looking at this bacteria as a contributing factor in autism, and I have seen over the years in certain autistic individuals that Helicobacter pylori is a causative or contributing factor in their persistent problems of food allergies and intestinal dysbiosis. So what is Helicobacter pylori?

H. pylori is a bacterial infection that invades the lining of the stomach and upper intestine. It is commonly associated with ulcer formation, and is a risk factor for stomach cancer. Typically symptoms of H. pylori manifest as pain and pressure in the stomach region, bloating, distention, and reflux disease (heartburn). In individuals on the autism-spectrum these issues may manifest as behavioral problems such as irritability, agitation or self-abusive behavior after eating, poor appetite, avoidance of eating meat, night waking with irritability and self-stimulatory behavior such as chest pounding. Periodically, bad breath not associated with gum disease, and bowel dysfunction such as diarrhea and/or constipation are present.

A common finding in someone dealing with this infection is the need for digestive enzymes and antacids. H. pylori can cause reduction of hydrochloric acid (HCL) production in the stomach leading to the inability to adequately digest food, especially protein. Antacids work by reducing the amount of organic acids that are released by partially digested food, as well as neutralize the stomachs production of HCL. Although there are many natural treatments for H. pylori, it is generally recommended that one use antibiotic protocols to eradicate this organism, while using natural supplements such as garlic, colostrum, mastic gum, and lactoferrin as adjunctive therapy. The use of Matula Tea also seems to have promise against this bacteria as well.

A common mistake with H. pylori testing is inadequate data collection. H. pylori blood testing can be misleading, and most of the medical literature still debates the most effective means of diagnosis. However, I have had good success with diagnosis based on clinical suspicion, patient history, and the use of specific antibody testing. Antibodies are specific immune chemicals that are produced against bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These antibodies are called immunoglobulins (Ig) – IgG, IgM, and IgA. Most medical doctors will only test for IgG against H. pylori sometimes missing the more subtle immune response of the other immunoglobulins. I like to perform all three to increase the yield of detection. I will also perform an H. pylori stool test from BioHealth Diagnostics Laboratory because in certain individuals the Ig blood testing is inconclusive. In children on the autism-spectrum where blood testing is too difficult simply doing the stool antigen test from BioHealth is often enough to detect the presence of the organism.

Helicobacter pylori eradication is an important component in improving overall digestive function as well as total body balance. The human body should always be viewed as a unification of body systems and interrelated physiological function. In autism treatment, this is critical. The traditional medical community needs to move past its archaic viewpoint that autism is purely a neurodevelopmental disorder, and better understand that medical conditions can often be at the root of an autism-spectrum person’s problems.

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What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome and How Does It Relate to Treating Autism?

Posted on 06 September 2011 by admin

Leaky gut syndrome is a phenomenon in which micro-particles, i.e. food fragments, viruses, bacteria and yeast proteins, and other bio-toxic material are leeched into the blood stream from a breakdown of the intestinal mucosal barrier. With respect to autism, leaky gut is thought to contribute to unwanted molecules (food, bacteria, yeast, etc.) permeating through the intestinal wall and cross-reacting with the immune system (leading to increased susceptibility for allergies) and the brain (leading to problems in cognitive function, language, and behavior), as well as leading to brain inflammation.

Leaky gut syndrome is detrimental for a person’s health because toxic substances which are normally bound in the fecal matter making its way through the digestive system for eventual elimination, now has access through a permeable mucosal membrane leading to physical stress throughout the body. For example, a food protein like gliadin (found in wheat) may trigger brain chemical reactions altering attention, mood, sleep and pain response. If the substance is from an intestinal pathogen such as a bacteria it can trigger immune reactions leading to autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune is the process of the body’s immune system attacking itself and it is known that various infectious proteins can trigger this response, i.e. bacterial toxins leading to reactive arthritis (formally called Reiter’s Syndrome) or PANDAS – a autoimmune post-streptococcal infection condition triggered by group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus.

What causes leaky gut syndrome is not entirely known. In autism, part of the issue could be gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in wheat that certain individuals have a difficult time digesting. With the inability to breakdown gluten in the gut an inflammatory reaction is created which weakens the gut wall. Inside the gut wall are millions of tiny cells that are responsible for absorbing nutrients from our diet, as well as releasing enzymes to help breakdown the food stuff in the gut. The spaces between cells are vulnerable through something called a tight junction. A tight junction is material that holds cells together. Think of it like mortar between bricks in a wall. If the mortar breaks down than overtime the bricks collapse and the wall falls over. The same thing can happen in the digestive system with the tight junctions breaking down and the space between cells becoming more “leaky.”

Other potential contributing factors to leaky gut are alcohol, caffeine, certain drugs like ibuprofen and diets high in carbohydrates. In autism, a diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is used to eliminate the build-up of inflammation in the gut from hard to digest carbohydrates, i.e. corn, potatoes, rice. The results with this diet can be remarkable in helping autism-spectrum individuals improve their health and overall cognitive abilities. For parents with autistic children, as well as doctors and researchers looking at the role of leaky gut in autism, there is always more to understand with respects to causes and treatment. Simply understanding that leaky gut exists in autism is important and will help everyone involved in the care of an autistic individual better understand some of the reasons behind their health and cognitive challenges.

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Biomedical Autism Treatment – Respen-A blended chord, Inositol and Autism part 2

Posted on 01 August 2011 by admin

This is part 2 of the 2 part series on Respen-A blended chord and inositol. So inositol has been around for a long time and has been recommended in the past for OCD and anxiety. In some kids it works great, others it doesn’t work at all. And unfortunately it has been seen some kids who have reacted negatively to just the straight use of inositol. It probably likely has to do with the fact that its having an effect on glucose sugar metabolism in the brain and bolstering serotonin release. But up until recently, I mean we are talking the past couple of years, there wasn’t a lot known about how serotonin was metabolized in kids on the Autism spectrum.

We know now through the work of Elaine DeLack and the research through the Respen-A people that the Monoamine Oxidase A tends to be a problem area for many kids on the spectrum and therefore something like Respen-A has been a useful remedy to use, and I have seen that clinically in my practice as well. So just some information if you are looking to do the Respen-A blended chord it is now recommended that inositol be used along with it. And then if you want to find out more information specifically, obviously it comes with the Respen-A when the prescription comes from the dosing instructions. You can also access Respen-A on Facebook and I also have information on autismactionplan.com in the biomedical protocol section of that website. And I am of course available on an ongoing basis through the parent forum of autismactionplan.com to just answer your questions on a daily basis.

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Biomedical Autism Treatment – Respen-A blended chord, Inositol and Autism part 1

Posted on 31 July 2011 by admin

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Respen-A blended chord and inositol. With respects to Respen-A, there has been a lot of discussion about the new blended chord, or the blended chord version of Respen-A. The Respen-A originally is now the blended chord which has two different ingredients. There is the Reserpine which has been there all along to help boost and bolster the Monoamine Oxidase A activity and the active metabolite which helps to, not nullify but inhibit and neutralize the excess Monoamine Oxidase B activity that can occur and that creates the imbalances in serotonin, etc.

One of the things that has been recommended in the past to help boost the release of some of the stored serotonin to keep things in a more steady state was a little bit of gluten. Now we know the gluten free diet has been a steady, safe remedy now in the Autism community for many many years and there’s a tremendous amount of children who have benefited from the gluten and casein free diet. And so there are still some kids who just really can’t tolerate gluten at all.

What has been discovered is that a supplement called inositol can be useful and often can be used in place of needing a little bit of gluten with the Respen-A. What has happened is that the recommendation has really converted over now to using a small amount of inositol in the morning with the Respen-A, 300, 350, 400 or 500 or so mg of inositol, every kid is going to be a little bit different. But on average about 500 mg of inositol in the morning seems to be enough to help with the steady state release of serotonin so that it can be acted upon by the Monoamine Oxidase A, converted into its active aldehyde form to have the physiological effect that we are looking for with respects to Respen-A, which is attention, focusing, greater awareness, kids being more social, language development, etc. The next part will cover more about inositol’s role in this new Respen-A formulation.

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