What is Autism?
According to the Autism Society of America “Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting, development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non- verbal communication, social interaction, and leisure or play activities. Autism is one of five disorders that fall under the umbrella of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development.”
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder and since the 1980s the idea of a ‘spectrum of autism disorders’ has been widely acknowledged.
The cause of autism are complex and it is unlikely that there is a single cause, but rather a set of triggers involving biological/medical, psychological and behavioral factors. There appears to be a genetic link.
Psychological assessments can be helpful but they cannot be used to confirm or deny a diagnose is medical and is made by recognizing patterns of behavior from early life which indicate impairment of social interaction. Communication and development of imagination. This is known as the triad of impairment.
At one end of the spectrum will be a normally intelligent child with mild autism. And at the other end will be the child with profound learning difficulties and severe autism.
Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder
No one knows exactly what causes Autism spectrum disorder, but scientists think that both genetic and environmental factors might play a role. While autism was once erroneously believed to arise from stresses in a child’s psychological environment, modern medical evidence suggests that irregularities in the development of the brain and central nervous system give rise to the syndrome of autism. Causes of this development are diverse and may include chemical exposure, viral and genetic factors.
Many other factors are considered important. In regressive autism (child develops normally till about 1.5 year age and then regresses, loses speech and eye contact), role of MMR vaccination is highly debated. There have been cases where courts have awarded compensation for vaccine injury in autism cases.
Metabolic disorders are also considered important in some cases. For eg, many cases with autism are known to have problems with copper metabolism.
Food allergies also play an important role. Many autism patients improve on a gluten free diet or casein free diet. This has given rise to the notion that autism may be related to food allergies.
Epigenetics. There is an increasing amount of research that the autistic changes may be precepitated due to epigenetic changes, induced either by physical, mental, chemical (exposure to pesticides, preservatives, food colours, pollutants etc), biological (infections) or nutritional stress (deficiency) during pregnancy or vaccination after that.
Since autism is a ‘syndrome’, different causes may be applicable in different cases.
Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder
Severe level of impairment (requires very substantial support)
Social communication – minimal or absent communication or response to attempts at social interaction.
Fixed interests and repetitive behaviors – ongoing repetitive behaviors; intense preoccupation with rituals; interference with rituals can produce extreme distress.
Moderate (requires substantial support)
Social communication – limited social communication; interactions noticeably atypical.
Fixed interests and repetitive behaviors – Fixed interests and repetitive behaviors and rituals that interfere with functioning.
Mild (requires support)
Social communication – atypical social interaction; difficulty initiating or responding to social communication.
Fixed interests and repetitive behaviors – repetitive behaviors and fixed interests cause some interference with everyday functioning.
Signs of unusual development from birth to 6 months in children later diagnosed as autistic
- Flaccid body tone
- Lack of responsiveness or attentiveness to people or things
- Lack of excitement in presence of parents
- Lack of anticipatory posturing on being picked up
- Vacant, unfocused gaze
- Less than normal activity
- Specific motor deviations
- Eye squint mannerism
- Predominantly irritable mood, little smiling
- More somnolent than typical child
First symptoms of autism, typically 6-12 months
- Seeming hallucinatory excitement
- Appearance of self absorption
- No visual pursuit of people
- Avoiding mother’s gaze
- Resisting being held, arching torso away from parents
- Autism/stereotypes/motor mannerisms; hand-flapping, finger-dancing movements, rocking, spinning.
- Plastic expressions that do not communicate affect or intention
- Labile facial expressions that shift from grimaces to squints
- Fragmented, uncoordinated body movements
- Episodes of flailing, aimless, unmodulated hyperactivity
Symptoms of established autism, typically 12-24 months
- Child doesn’t approach parents
- Child keeps distance from parents
- Constricted, flattened affect
- Little or no purposeful activity
- Facial expression that doesn’t convey meaning
- Failure or normal language development
- Hand flapping
- Toe walking
- Turning in circles
- Rotating/spinning things in circular motion
- Echolaria (repeats whatever is said to them)
- Fear of loud noise
- Aversion to solid food
Autism in older children
There are many sign and symptoms including impaired social skills, language difficulties, speech, and inflexible behavior.
- Repeats the same words or phrases over and over.
- Does not know how to make friends, play and connect with people.
- Uses language incorrectly
- Does not pick up on other people’s expressions, tone, and gestures.
- Show no interest in what is going around them.
- Follows rigid routine
- Cannot tolerate to be touched, carried, or to be held.
- Cannot understand feelings, has trouble in talking about feelings
- Does not share interests or achievements with others
- Repeat the same action or movement again and again.
- Does not understand simple directions, questions, or statements
- Does not make eye contact.
- Unusual attachments to toys or strange objects such as keys, light switches, or rubber bands.
- Give unusual reactions to sounds, smells, sights, textures, may show sensitiveness to loud noises.
- Aversion to change.
Autism treatment usually includes therapies like Occupational Therapy (OT), Applied Behavioural Therapy (ABA), Speech Therapy, Nutritional supplements (multivitamin and omega 3), and special education.
Homeopathic treatment for autism
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat autism spectrum disorder but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several remedies are available to treat autism spectrum disorder that can be selected on the basis of family history, cause, sensations and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. Following remedies which are helpful in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder:
Cannabis indica, Carcinosin, Natrum mur, Opium, Thuja, Baryta carb, Cuprum met, Pulsatilla, Sulphur, Kali phos, Saccharum, Thuja, Medorrhinum, Tarantula hispanica, Calcarea carb, Lycopodium, Belladonna, and many other medicines.
Agaricus muscarius – aversion to work; loquacity; sings, talk but does not answer; fearlessness; indifference; great mental excitement and incoherent talking; mental confusion.
Aethusa cynapium – restless; anxious; disconnected; uneasy and violent; inability to think, to fix the attention; idiocy may alternate with furor and irritability
Baryta carb –excellent remedy for children with autism spectrum disorder; loss of memory; mental weakness; lost confidence in himself; bashful; aversion to strangers; childish; grief over trifles; irresolute; do not grow and develop; they are backward physically and mentally; very averse to meeting strangers; children subject to Quincy
Coffea – hyperactivity; irritability; and extreme excitement; tossing about anguish.
Hyoscyamus – low muttering speech; very suspicious; talkative; obscene; jealous; foolish; great hilarity; inclined to laugh at everything; constant carpholgia; deep stupor; quarrelsome; uncovers body; purposeless movements; no love for near once.
Lyssinum – the sight and sound of running water or pouring water makes child dreadful; dread of bright light
Kali brom – moves purposelessly; hand flapping; loss of memory; can pronounce any word told, but cannot speak otherwise; night delusions; horrid illusions; amnesic aphasia.
Rheum – impatient and vehement; desires many things and cries; inability to play with others
Tarantula – hyperactive child; extreme restless; must keep in constant motion; capricious; sudden mood changes; aversion to company; disconnected; destructive behavior. Malicious. Likes bright colours.
Carcinocin – Autism in children with family history of cancer or strong history of diabetes and coronary artery disease in both paternal and maternal families. Child if often slow but agreeable and caring. May be good in arts.
Lycopodium – Child is often aggressive and domineering at home but mild and shy outside. Aversion to mental work.
Saccharum officianale: Autism with hyperactivity. Sweets aggravate.
Cuprum met: Autism with history of convulsions.
Helleborus: Child remains lost in himself, intermittent shrieking, reduced sensitivity to heat and pain.
Natrum mur: Child remains lost in himself, aversion to company, aversion to talking. Mother may have history of grief during pregnancy.
Apart from these drugs, another therapy in homeopathy that is used for autism treatment is CEASE Therapy. Cease therapy includes use of individualized remedies like the ones above and/or serial potentised vaccines and drugs that the patient or mother (during pregnancy) has taken. Some special remedies like Cuprum cum Carcinocin are also used. Along with it, high dose vitamin supplements, esp Vitamin C, Zinc, Copper and Omega 3 fatty acids are given.
Dr. Manish Bhatia is one of the leading global experts for homeopathic treatment of autism spectrum disorders. He has been treating ASD cases since 2006. He is also a Co-author of the book Homeopathy and Mental Health Care: Integrative Practice, Principles and Research. For more information, visit TreatAutism.in website