Autism: It’s Not Simply a Brain-Based Disorder

A new report describes autism as a “whole body” condition, suggesting there are a variety of avenues for symptom relief.   

While researchers still have no conclusive thesis about the cause of autism, many now agree that the condition involves far more than just the brain. Experience Life first reported on this revised understanding in 2011, in the feature “Autism’s Puzzle,” and last month a new report issued by the patient advocacy group Autism Speaks also describes autism as a “whole body disorder” that involves multiple health challenges, including digestive issues, sleep difficulties, and seizures.

Children with autism have a 10 to 30 percent higher incidence of epilepsy, for example, and they’re nearly eight times more likely than their peers to experience gastrointestinal distress like gas, diarrhea, and constipation, according to the report. They also suffer higher rates of ADHD and anxiety.

The report is not the first to assert that autism is a multisystem disorder. In a 2005 paper, Harvard pediatric neurologist Martha Herbert, MD, PHD, identified the association of autism with multiple ills — largely metabolic and autoimmune issues — that affect different organs in the body. A year later Herbert would assert that genetic factors involved in detoxification may make autism sufferers more vulnerable to environmental toxins, which can play a critical role in damaging the brain’s circuitry as well as other systems.

This expanded perception has meant that for people and families struggling with autism, there are more treatment choices available.

The new report suggests lifestyle interventions for dealing with chronic sleep disruption can help relieve some behavioral issues. And while it asserts that there is limited evidence to support the efficacy of dietary interventions, many functional-medicine practitioners have reported notable symptom reduction with an elimination diet. Others use targeted supplements to address potential weaknesses in detoxification, which has also seemed to reduce autism symptoms.

Each autism case is unique, so there is no magic bullet. But the growing acceptance of autism as a complex chronic illness offers good reason to hope that a broader understanding will continue to lead to more treatment approaches — and symptom relief.

Written by Courtney Helgoe and reposted with permission from Experience Life.

38 comments

Twila H
Twila H2 days ago

Thanks!

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Carl R
Carl R16 days ago

Thanks!!!

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Carl R
Carl R16 days ago

Thanks!!!

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Danuta W
Danuta W24 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Krzysztof J
Krzysztof J25 days ago

Ty

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Marzena B
Marzena B25 days ago

Thanks

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Marcin J
Marcin J25 days ago

Thanks

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Julie W
Julie W25 days ago

Effort to Kill New Vaccine Studies Fails
Despite false claims, the studies have not been retracted, nor their evidence that vaccines can be dangerous.
http://www.anh-usa.org/effort-to-kill-new-vaccine-studies-fails/

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Julie W
Julie W25 days ago

Vaccinated children get more diseases than non-vaccinated. Study.
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/vaccinated-vs-unvaccinated-pilot-study-early-vaccination-sees-exponential-increas

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Ruth Rakotomanga
Ruth Rakotomanga25 days ago

A study in Britain found there was a higher incidence of autism in children living close to main roads, so pollution from traffic probably plays a part in causing the illness. It will be interesting to see whether the number of autism cases falls as more electric vehicles come onto the roads.

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