Autism Spectrum Disorders
Traditionally, the diagnosis of autism has been based on the observation of behavior, and treatment focused primarily on alleviating challenging behaviors. However, there is a very real biomedical component to the disorder in which underlying medical issues often cause or contribute to autistic behavior.
Some of the most common problems include gastrointestinal (GI) overgrowth of Candida and Clostridia, inability to detoxify environmental toxins, and development of food intolerances and/or allergies. These physical and environmental factors limit the nutrients available to the brain and body, resulting in damage to cellular, metabolic, and central nervous system functioning.
Every individual with autism exhibits unique behavioral and cognitive symptoms with varying degrees of severity. Common symptoms can also include eczema, diarrhea, constipation, rashes, dark eye circles, and visible stomach pain.
Personalized Testing and Treatment
Typical routine lab work often falls short of uncovering subtle abnormalities which can have a profound effect on health. Unless accurately addressed, this vicious cycle will continue to inhibit the various biochemical pathways necessary for proper neurological and immune function. The resulting complications contribute to, and may even cause, the symptoms of autism.
Comprehensive laboratory testing can identify the physiological imbalances that contribute to autism and point to an individualized treatment approach. Treatments are designed to restore the body to balance and optimize function through nutritional support, diet, detoxification, and reduction of toxic environmental influences.
To achieve optimal results, it is critical that potential biomedical issues be assessed and included as part of the overall treatment programs for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
What tests can I do?
Comprehensive biomedical testing to determine abnormalities:
Reducing or eliminating yeast overgrowth can be an effective method of reducing autistic symptoms. Microbial overgrowth can be measured by urine organic acid analyses of yeast and bacterial metabolites. The Organic Acids Test quantifies other useful markers of energy cycle and neurological function, as well as nutritional adequacy. The test is also designed to identify some rare genetic diseases and indirect indicators of methylation problems. When Candida grows out of balance, it can disrupt areas of the intestinal wall, producing toxins and leading to leaky gut syndrome. Candida toxins can depress the immune system. An inflammatory immune response and multiple food sensitivities can result from the leaky gut. Many children on the autism spectrum have an overgrowth of certain Clostridia species, which produces a compound called HPHPA (3-(3-hydroxyphenyl)- 3-hydroxypropionic acid). HPHPA may disrupt dopamine metabolism by interfering with the enzyme dopamine beta-hydroxylase. HPHPA is a potent toxin with profound neurological effects in autism, and can lead to moodiness, tantrums, extreme anxiety, aggression, and /or selfinjurious behavior.
Symptoms of autism are consistent with those of a mercury toxicity. Metal toxicity impacts cognition, language, immunity, and behavior. Identifying and eliminating metals such as lead, arsenic, aluminum, and mercury is an important step toward recovery. Evidence shows that children with autism tend to have low levels of glutathione and cysteine, which are critical to the removal of toxic metals like mercury. Children with autism are also frequently treated excessively with oral antibiotics, which greatly inhibits excretion of mercury.
Most of the time, food reactions are IgG-mediated. These sensitivities tend to create problems because they stress the child's immune system, compromising digestion and resulting in inflammation and increased behavioral issues. IgG food allergy testing can identify the specific antibody reactions not commonly tested by allergists. Eliminating offending foods strengthens the immune system and may help significantly reduce autistic symptoms and GI problems. The use of probiotics may also be beneficial in alleviating GI dysfunction, inflammation, and potential behavioral symptoms shown by some children on the autism spectrum.
About 60% of children with autism have shown adverse reactions to proteins found in wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein) products. The Peptides Test measures small protein fragments called neuro-peptides that bind to opiate receptors in the brain. These opiate peptides are partially digested proteins that have the potential to interfere with neurotransmission, resulting in cognitive difficulty and speech impairment. Worsening neurological symptoms have been reported in autistic patients after consumption of milk and wheat. In one study, the behavioral symptoms of most patients greatly improved after a period of 8 weeks on an elimination diet.
Cholesterol is essential to brain development, and is one of the healthy fats required for myelination of the brain and for the health and repair of cell membranes. Cholesterol supports adrenal pathways and sex hormone production, and is also critically important in improving the efficiency of oxytocin receptors in the brain. The majority of kids on the spectrum have a problem with oxytocin function, which can result in problems with socialization and cause symptoms of anxiety. Identifying and treating low cholesterol levels with cholesterol supplementation can significantly improve the symptoms of autism.
Comprehensive stool analysis detects the presence of pathogenic yeast, parasites, and bacteria that could be contributing to chronic illness and neurological dysfunction. The test evaluates overall intestinal function and beneficial bacterial levels, and indicates which agents will be most effective in killing harmful bacteria and yeast.
- Dr. Shaw's Book: Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD
- Conference Presentation on Organic Acid Testing
- Interview with Dr. Shaw
- A Story on Autism Recovery
- "The Yeast Problem & Bacteria By Products" By Dr. William Shaw
- "Oxalates Control is a Major New Factor in Autism Therapy" By Dr. William Shaw
- "Increased Urinary Excretion of Analogs of Krebs Cycle Metabolites and Arabinose in Two Brothers with Autistic Features" By Dr. William Shaw
- "Assessment of Antifungal Drug Therapy in Autism by Measurement of Suspected Microbial Metabolites in Urine with Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry" By Dr. William Shaw
- "Porphyrin Testing and Heavy Metal Toxicity: Unresolved Questions and Concerns" By Dr. William Shaw
- "Deficient Cholesterol: A Common New Factor in Autism" By Dr. William Shaw
- "Lithium Deficiency: Common in Mental Illness and Social Ills" By Dr. William Shaw
- Click here to view the Recommendations By Disorder Chart (PDF)
References for this page:
- Rossignol, D. (2009). Diagnosis autism: Now what? a simplified biomedical approach. The Autism File, 32, 8-11.
- Ekiel, A., et al. Intestinal microflora of autistic children. Med DOSW Mikrobiol, 2010. 62(3):237-43.
- Woeller, DO, K. N. (2013, October). Initial workups for autism spectrum disorders: An interview with kurt n. woeller, do. Townsend Letter, (363), 71-77.
- Treatment Options for Mercury/Metal Toxicity in Autism and Related Developmental Disabilities: Consensus Position Paper. Autism Research Institute. 2005.
- Critchfield, J.W., et al. The potential role of probiotics in the management of childhood autism spectrum disorders. Gastroenterol Res Pract, 2011.
- Knivsberg, A.M., et al., A randomised, controlled study of dietary intervention in autistic syndromes. Nutr Neurosci, 2002. 5(4): p. 251-61.
- Lucarelli, S, et al. (1995). Food allergy and infantile autism. Panminerva Med., 37(3), 137-41.
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