reply to post by DrumsRfun
I appreciate you reaching out and wanting to find information. Good on you!
reply to post by DrumsRfun
There is reason to think it is both genetic and environmental. In other words a genetic predisposition or fragility may make some people more
susceptible to environmental factors such as toxins, vaccines, diet, etc.
Kosmicjack said this very well. This is the current research as far as I know, as well. Kosmicjack mentioned correlation studies, and they seem to
bubble up, grabbing a headline and then sinking back into the mass of data never to be heard of again; because of the complexity of ASD, in my
opinion, I doubt a correlation study will discover an actual "smoking gun." Researchers like "smoking guns" because they can work backwards from
them, towards both prevention and possible treatment.
As was stated above, assuming this theory is correct, a child with autism has a genetic predisposition to be affected by toxins, diet, possibly
vaccines - a laundry list of things, really. I see it as a sort of "cascade" issue for some kids (my theory here, based on my research and
experience), especially the ones who regress: the genetic predisposition is triggered, perhaps several times, by several different sources until the
"straw that breaks the camel's back" hits them, and then, depending on the child and the nature of the trigger(s), leads to a compromise in the
body, leading to inflammation in the white matter of the brain (cabling) and, sometimes, issues in the GI tract (which might come BEFORE the
inflammation in the white matter of the brain). This is why it can appear to be "ONE THING" like a vaccine, or high levels of industrial lead, etc.
But it could be either, both, or something else. These things are only triggers. We are exposed everyday to tons of toxins all around us in a soup
that no one really planned for, and certainly no one knows how these weird combinations of things are affecting us. In my opinion, the genetic
predisposition has ALWAYS existed, and it is the environment (stuff external to the child that the child comes in contact with) that has changed (this
could be ingested, breathed, touched, etc.).
Another issue that I haven't seen anyone discuss yet, is the disruption of normal sensory inputs in the brain, or "sensory integration" disorder.
More than just language and social behavior are usually affected. Vision may be highly sensitive and rapidly processed, but auditory is lagging, so
there is a disconnect between what is seen and what is heard (it is described as the world being a badly dubbed movie). This leads to the outward
behavior of the child putting his or her hands over her hears or sticking their fingers in their ears to dampen the sense that isn't making sense (so
to speak). Other kids have to "shut down" their vision so they can concentrate on their auditory input, which is more easily processed for them.
There is "hypo" (dulled) and "hyper" (extreme) sensitivity of the senses as well, including the sense of touch. That is why some kids don't want
to be touched or they get upset at certain textures. Other kids may have too little input and be a danger to themselves, injuring themselves without
realizing the damage because it doesn't hurt for them.
A child like mine has hypersensitivity for auditory, hyposensitivity of touch, extraordinary visual and kinesthetic processing (amazing eye-hand
coordination), etc. - each child is unique depending on how they are uniquely wired/challenged. A very important thing to remember is that ALL
behavior has a reason for it and ALL behavior is communication - even if outwardly it looks strange. A parent needs to be a good detective, observe
their child's unique issues and search out the underlying reason. Even when behavior seems incomprehensible, or the child seems "out of touch" it
is good to remember that there is still a child in there, stuck in a body/brain that is not working right. (see my signature, if you like)
Kosmicjack also mentioned the GAPS diet. My son with severe autism must absolutely stay away from several foods; gluten, casein, soy, corn, eggs,
excess sugar, etc. If he doesn't, his behaviors (hyperactivity, 'stimming' or repetitive behaviors, insomnia, self-injurious and aggressive) all
spike to where life is just insane. I know it doesn't work for everyone, but there is definitely a portion of the autism population that are
effected by not only foods, but environmental sensitivities as well. I would recommend finding an open-minded doctor, allergist or nutritionist (or
combination of these) to work through an elimination diet, starting with gluten and casein (or one at a time), for at least six weeks, noting
carefully any changes. If there is a spike in behaviors during those six weeks, don't give up as this is often a sign it is going to be worth the
work! (My son had a horrible time with this but it was worth it! He got his facial expressions back, which had totally gone, and he stopped pushing
everyone away except me, and started showing some interest in things other than turning everything into a drum.) Granted, this is anecdotal, but
there is research out there, should you want to investigate this. We figured what preliminary studies we saw looked like it could have some positive
results, so we went for it, just wanting something we could DO that was in our control, in a situation that seemed utterly out of control. He was
recently (after multiple attempts to figure this out) diagnosed with IBS - irritable bowel syndrome, incidentally. So there is definitely an issue in
that area - I just wished he'd had that diagnosis when he was 2 1/2 instead of 11!!
Incidentally, my son is non-verbal, and has not yet been trained up to a device (ie a device to help him communicate). He is 12, and that is one of
our top priorities.
It is very important to remember that autism is a spectrum disorder, as others have mentioned. Someone on the "high functioning" could very well
have an extremely productive life, while those on the severe end will have much greater challenges.
Does your friend have services for her child? If not, you can help her look into what services your state has available for children with autism.
From everything I've seen, it is very important to start "early intervention" as soon as you can. Go to the state Medicaid site and check out the
qualifications for "disability" there. If the child is school-aged, the school will provide services to the family and a specialized education
program. If pre-school aged, there may be resources to get the child into a structured program with people trained to help kids with autism. It can
seem overwhelming and there is usually a mountain of paperwork, but again, it is worth it to get the help the child needs.
Anyway - thanks for your post - I hope mine is helpful! If you have questions, please ask, as I am very willing to help!
Movies that may help give you a good picture of things: "Autism, The Musical" "Horseboy" and "A Mother's Courage"