Tag Archive | "dr Kurt Woeller"

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Autism Treatment – Pandas, Probiotic Problems and Autism

Posted on 08 January 2012 by admin

PANDAS, PROBIOTICS PROBLEMS AND AUTISM
One phenomenon that I have seen with a number of kids on the Autism spectrum–some kids aren’t necessarily classically diagnosed with Autism but who have the characteristics of something called PANDAS–is a condition in the body that is triggered by a streptococcal infection, specifically Group A Beta Hemolytic Strep. In this case, individuals develop obsessive compulsive behavior, sometimes tics, behavioral issues, weird or odd movements of the head or the eyes, side glancing, or different manifestations that usually come about after an infection, sometimes a sore throat. It can be a marked change in their behavior, social anxiety, anxiety in general and as mentioned before very, very severe forms of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Now there are certain individuals on the Autism spectrum who have this characteristic and there are also other people who develop obsessive compulsive behavior and tics etc, who also have PANDAS but are not Autistic. One of the things that is interesting is in many of the supplements that people take, specifically probiotics, there is a specific bacteria called streptococcus thermophilus that is a natural bacteria and is essentially listed as a beneficial bacterial for the digestive system and for our overall health. You also find it in some yogurt products as well. It’s reported that streptococcus thermophilus is entirely different than Group A Beta Hemolytic Strep as far as its protein structure and therefore should not be a contributing problem to the obsessive compulsive problems or the other manifestation of PANDAS. The problem is that has not always proved to be true. This basically means in many kids, whether they are on the Autism spectrum or not, just don’t seem to react very well to probiotics that have streptococcus thermophilus.

If you have a suspicion that your child has PANDAS or is likely a problem, check their probiotics. See if the probiotics that they are taking have streptococcus thermophilus. If it does, consider changing to a different probiotic. It doesn’t always fit, but often times it does.

I had a situation a couple of years ago where a patient who had PANDAS was successfully treated for it and was essentially in remission started a group of new supplements, and all of a sudden, started coming down with those PANDAS conditions again. Anxiety, tics, obsessive behavior. The parent didn’t realize that the streptococcus thermophilus was an issue until we recognized that that was likely a contributing factor. Just stopping that one supplement alone, his PANDAS symptoms, his OCD, his anxiety disappeared. I have seen that happen now with other kids and other people as well. So it is one of the things that I look at clinically is if streptococcus thermophilus is being used in a supplement, that is one thing I look to remove.

PANDAS

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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 – How to Successfully Work With a Biomedical Autism Doctor

Posted on 07 November 2011 by admin

Autism Treatment

These suggestions have been acquired over the years in my practice and have helped me assist my patients greatly. Also, in talking with many other doctors working with families of a loved one with autism these recommendations often hold true as well.

Autism Treatment Journal – keep a running journal of your observations and timeline of therapies you are implementing.

Keep a spreadsheet of therapies.

Keep dates of when new therapies such as when supplements were started, stopped, and what reactions you see (good or bad).

Recognize your child’s patterns – situational, seasonal, time of day.

If you add new therapies new problems occur, then cut out the therapies implemented after the reactions occurred, then reintroduce each therapy one at a time and slowly to isolate which one was the potential culprit. Notify your doctor of these changes.

You will need to become a detective of your child’s particular autism condition.

You know your child better than anyone – be involved 100%.

You are ultimately responsible for your own health and your child’s health care, and by keeping an Autism Treatment Journal, you can help your doctors to treat your child effectively. Be prepared for your consultations with questions, concerns, and important topics you want to cover. Ask whether your practitioner receives faxes, emails, or voice mail regarding questions.Send these to your doctor via fax or email prior to your consult.
Be prepared to pay for extra time. Most doctors will answer questions that are related to a new therapy introduced or quick follow-up questions to a recent visit.

Partnering with your practitioner also means having a relationship with the office staff. Treat them with respect. They are there to help. Do not assume your doctor remembers every detail about your child – keep them informed. If you change supplements by either removing or adding them, let your practitioner know in writing via fax or email. This way they can keep a copy for their records.

Come prepared with your latest observations about your child. Let your doctor know what different therapies, testing, etc. you want to explore. Keep a running list of supplements, medications, calendar of therapy implementation and observed reactions to therapies.

Let your doctor know when you have sent off tests or if you are having problems getting tests samples collected. Some offices track follow-up appointments based on incoming tests results.

Autism Treatment

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Autism Treatment–Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

Posted on 17 October 2011 by admin

Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Some children, particularly those with inflammatory bowel conditions, very weak immune systems, or the inability to eradicate opportunistic bacteria and yeast from their digestive system, often times will receive benefit from a more detailed autism treatment dietary program than just the gluten and casein-free diet. One such autism treatment program is called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) as promoted by the late Elaine Gottschall, author of a groundbreaking book titled “Breaking the Vicious Cycle.” This diet is an extension of the gluten/casein-free diet (and soy-free diet) and has been a big boost health wise for many children on the autismspectrum.

I have seen the Specific Carbohydrate Diet work miracles with patients with digestive conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis or Chron’s Disease. Many children on the autism spectrum are suffering with a similar condition called Autistic Entereocolitis as described by Andrew Wakefield, M.D. Many more kids are suffering with undiagnosed bowel disorders that benefit from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is not just a low carbohydrate diet, but instead is focused on removing certain grains such as wheat, barley, rye (same as the GF/CF diet), as well as rice, corn and other offending foods. The theory is that certain digestive enzymes that breakdown disaccharides (complex sugars) are missing (or are being blocked from reaching the food in the digestive system by excessive layers of intestinal mucus) in the child’s digestive system, making it difficult to digest these additional food sources. The lack of digestive function leads to chronic inflammation in the digestive system leading to gut wall deterioration. With the breakdown of the gut wall, food absorption is compromised leading to mineral, amino acid and vitamin imbalances, as well as immune dysfunction and the overgrowth of opportunistic infections such as yeast and bacteria.

The digestive system is the largest immune organ in the body and acts as the first line ofimmune defense against pathogens such as parasites, yeast, bacteria and intestinal exposed viruses. The loss of this immune response and the eventually breakdown of the gut wall can lead to systemic immune dysfunction and leaky gut. “Leaky gut” is analogous to a screen door on a submarine – “everything and anything can get through.” This means you lose the ability to keep the bad stuff from entering your blood stream. Increased toxins filtering into your child’s blood stream can activate systemic immune responses leading to local and systemic inflammation – including the brain. Celiac disease (which is a genetic disorder evidenced by the inability to digest gluten – specifically gliadin – containing grains) is an example of this where gluten proteins from food can adversely affect the brain.

To learn more about this autism treatment approach – the Specific Carbohydrate Diet -and the benefits it may have for your child visit – www.breakingtheviciouscycle.com

Specific Carbohydrate Diet

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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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Autism Treatment – Is Autism Curable?

Posted on 06 September 2011 by admin

“Autism is curable.” This is a statement some people use to indicate that autism is a disease or health condition that can be overcome. Others have vehemently argued that autism is not a disease process at all, and therefore there is nothing to be cured from. The traditional medical community viewpoint is that there is no cure for autism and only supportive treatment such behavioral modification and drug therapies are options worth pursuing.

To fully understand the concept of cure we need to make a distinction between what is commonly called ‘cured’ (a return to a previous state of health before a change had occurred) and ‘recovery’ (the act of regaining health that was previously lost). Traditional medicine, and even those in the autism medical community realize that there is no known cure for autism, although there are different treatments available including biomedical autism interventions that can help individuals on the autism-spectrum such as diet, i.e. gluten-free and casein-free diet and/or the specific carbohydrate diet, nutritional supplement intervention (including multivitamin/minerals), Methyl-B12 therapy, Respen-A, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, detoxification, anti-fungal treatment, and much more, as well as non-biomedical therapies including applied behavior analysis (ABA), speech and occupational intervention. Traditional medicine even has treatments which are mostly drugs such as Risperdal to suppress aberrant behavior. However, none of these treatments are curative.

I do not use the word ‘cure’ in my consultations, internet postings, lectures, or writings when discussing the various treatments available for individuals on the autism-spectrum. Instead, the more appropriate word I like to use is ‘recover.’ Here is an analogy. If you have an accident and break your arm, and overtime your broken arm heals to the point that movement is restored and it appears indistinguishable from before the accident this would indicate a recovery from your injury. However, your arm would still have suffered the injury and therefore an absolute cure from the accident (and subsequent broken arm) is not possible. You still had the broken arm. However, normal function in your arm has been regained…you recovered!

A similar concept applies to autism. Children (as well as teenagers or adults) are not cured from their autism. However, some individuals can recover, losing their diagnosis, and appear indistinguishable from their peers. In these cases their autism was reversed, most or all symptoms of their disorder have disappeared, and they now function typical of other people, but they will always have had what is classified as autism. So what do you think? is autism curable?

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Autism Treatment – Self-Injury Behavior and Autism

Posted on 06 September 2011 by admin

Self-injury behavior is quite common in autism. I have seen some serious cases where individuals on the autism-spectrum have damaged fingers and hands (from biting) and created deep bruises (from head banging and facial slapping) from self-abusive behavior. There are several theories as to why this occurs, and some resources that can help.

The lack of effective communication skills is likely one of the major reasons for self-injury behavior. The significant language deficits in autism often lead to frustration in a person not being able to communicate their wants or being able to get their point across. The self-abusive behavior such as self-biting can be a way of releasing their frustration. Self-injury can also be a way for an individual on the autism-spectrum to get attention. For example, head-banging or scratching until bleeding occurs will usually draw a parent, therapist or care givers immediate attention. Learning to recognize the different patterns of self-abusive behavior, i.e. the difference between frustration over the inability to communicate versus attention seeking can help in alleviating some of the stress that autistic individuals feel.

Anxiety can be another cause of self-injury behavior. Anxiety in general is high in autism, and if accompanied by self-biting, hitting, slapping, and scratching recognizing the pattern that leads to anxiety, i.e. social gatherings, crowds – then steps can be taken to reduce stressful situations or various treatment intervention, i.e. medication, supplements (GABA, theanine) can be implemented to help ease anxiety.

Recently, studies have uncovered that biochemical changes can occur that contribute to our understanding as to why certain individuals on the autism-spectrum will self-injure themselves. Various chemicals called endorphins are released which influence brain chemistry leading to relief of pain and frustration. In some people these chemicals have a natural calming effect. The improved feelings of calmness may be short-lived, but it does occur. Unfortunately, repeated need to self-abuse is prevalent to induce the endorphin release again. In essence, self-abusive behavior becomes addictive in attempts to get a fix on natural endorphin release for improved sense of temporary well-being.

Some authorities feel that ignoring self-injurious behavior is preferred, but this can be a difficult thing to do for any parent or caregiver. Other reports that learning communication and behavior therapy, possibly along with medication and/or biomedical intervention (diet, supplements) is a better way to proceed. For all family members who are involved in the care of a person with autism learning techniques through communication training is very important. Working with a trained behavior therapist who can help decipher what is causing the self-abusive tendencies can go a long way in eliminating or reducing this troubling behavior.

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