5th Annual Conference – Biomedical Treatment of Autism, PDD, ADD/HD, OCD and Tourette Syndrome. Register here.
You can find out more about biomedical treatments for autism here.
We are delighted to reproduce the latest in our series of guest blog posts from Dr Sonya Doherty.
Today she offers and introduction to biomedical treatments for autism. As this is a new therapy for me I’m very interested in getting feedback on biomedical treatment for autism from our readers. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.
“1. What is biomedical treatment?
Biomedical treatment is an individualized medical treatment program to prevent and treat developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, OCD, Tourette Syndrome and Speech Language Delay (Apraxia, Dyspraxia).
2. What type childhood disorders can benefit from biomedical treatment?
Biomedical treatment focuses on identifying weaknesses in a child’s body that are obstacles to development. So, any child can benefit from this program because it is the most comprehensive medical treatment plan to optimize brain development. The children who experience the most dramatic changes in language, social, cognitive and behavioural development are the children who are diagnosed with autism. They are the children who need biomedical treatment the most.
3. What is the earliest age you see?
The youngest biomedical patients are those who have siblings diagnosed with autism. Our sibling program focuses on prevention of developmental delays. Children who have a sibling on the autism spectrum are 20% more likely to be diagnosed themselves. They experience higher levels of speech delay, sensory issues, attention and focus problems and behavioural issues. Siblings are more likely to have eczema, allergies, asthma, constipation and sleep issues.
We begin more intensive biomedical treatment at the first sign of significant developmental concerns such as eye contact or visual tracking problems in infants or sensory meltdowns and self-stimulating behaviour in toddlers.
4. Can you begin treatment without a diagnosis?
It is SO UNBELIEVABLY IMPORTANT to act right away. Early intervention increases the likelihood of recovering significant and peer level language, social and cognitive function. Unfortunately, the staggering length of the waitlist means that our little ones begin treatment long before they get a diagnosis and years before they will ever receive any funded treatment. The good news is that the younger kids begin biomedical treatment, the better the outcome.
5. What type of results can parents expect to see? and how quickly?
We expect to see positive changes in 4-12 weeks. Better eye contact, decreased sensory issues, increased attempts to communicate verbally and/or non-verbally. Biomedical treatment is about repair and recovery. This process takes time and to see the best results, the treatment plans should be adjusted and changed every few months as a child moves through different stages. In the beginning, it is essential to stop further damage to the brain. The second step is to repair and then after 1-3 years our patients are on maintenance programs to continue to support their development.
6. Is the cost covered by private insurance coverage?
Many people have private insurance and biomedical treatment visits are covered by naturopathic benefits. It is important to help parents plan a monthly budget for biomedical treatments like methyl B12 injections. There are also important laboratory assessments that are done in the beginning of treatment and re-assessed throughout the process. The average yearly cost is $2000-3000. For the majority of our patients, 1-3 years of biomedical treatment creates development gains that are life changing. Biomedical works by opening doors now, doors that may remain closed because of untreated medical issues.
7. How does a family get started?
Some families like to read books or look at current medical research in this area. For those parents, we encourage them to get our biomedical handbook to get more information or to look online at www.treatautism.ca.
Other parents are ready to get started and can begin the process by contacting our clinic.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, FMAPS (candidate)
Welcome to our latest guest post from Dr. Sonya Doherty. You can read the original post on her blog here.
Dr. Sonya Doherty is a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor who is an active member of the CAND. Sonya Doherty completed her undergraduate training at the University of Western Ontario in a Bachelor of Science Honors Kinesiology program.
Dr. Sonya Doherty writes” Head banging is very common in children diagnosed with autism. From a biomedical perspective, head banging is considered a sign or symptom of an underlying problem. Something is triggering the need to head bang. Children with autism have dysregulated brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that impair their ability to process sensory information. This sensory processing impairment causes pain. Sometimes a child’s brain feels overwhelmed or scrambled. Other times, the sensory input is causing direct pain to the brain. The best example is if someone pops a balloon beside your ear. You would be thrown into sensory overload because your auditory system was assaulted by an unexpected, loud sound. For children with autism, the balance of brain chemicals change the way they perceive sensory information, dramatically increasing the effect of sensory stimuli on the brain. For some children, this external assault on their brain is so overwhelming that they will bang their heads to drown out the information being picked up through their senses. The world is a minefield for someone who cannot turn off background noise. The typically developing brain can turn off unwanted sensory information. The HVAC system that hums in your office is “tuned out”, protecting the brain from sensory overload. In autism, there is no turning off these sounds.
The fire truck down the street, the hum of traffic, 5 different conversations, typing on the keyboard etc. Theses sounds all bombard the brain causing discomfort and pain. Head banging is a survival strategy used to deal with this devastating amount of input. Recent research has shown that people on the spectrum have more brain activity, even at rest. I believe many “autistic behaviours” are an attempt to manage this overstimulation. The head banging is a pain that children can control. It creates pain, but distracts them from a far more distressing pain that is unrelenting and can’t be escaped. Children withdraw from the world because of the inability to deal with this massive surplus of data. Without the ability to interpret the data properly, head banging can help give some relief.
“Surveys published in the gastroenterology literature have stated that gastrointestinal problems, such as chronic constipation or diarrhea, occur in 46% to 85% of children with ASDs.”
Journal of Pediatrics – Scott M. Myers, MD
What can you do to help your child who is banging their head?
First, if it hasn’t become crystal clear that your child is in pain, refer back to the above section. THIS IS NOT A BEHAVIOUR. Your child is in pain and now that you know, let’s get started on making them feel better. Dr. Martha Herbert wrote a ground breaking book called The Autism Revolution. In her book, she recommends a diet that will help your child. The diet is hard. And because your child is in pain, they likely are addicted to foods that give quick bursts of reprieve to the brain: Gluten, dairy, sugar and processed foods. Your child’s diet, like their head banging, is a product of brain balance. Helping to get rid of head banging and begin the process of repairing the brain is not easy but healing the brain is possible. Healing means feeling better, learning easier, communicating more. Sometimes is means children can progress over years of treatment off the spectrum. Step one, though, is just to get them out of pain.
Here are the things your child can eat (it is only going to take one line):
– MEAT, VEGETABLES, FRUIT, NUTS AND SEEDS (as long as they are not allergic!!!!!)
Did I mention that Martha Herbert is a pediatric neurologist, associate professor at Harvard and one of the leading experts in the world on autism treatment? I should mention that because here are the foods your child cannot eat (I am only going to need one line here as well)
– DAIRY, GRAINS (not just gluten – all grains), CORN, POTATO, MOST BEANS AND LEGUMES
The basic treatment guildelines in my practice have been fine tuned over the last 10 years of treating children with developmental concerns. I have worked with over 2000 families to help prevent and treat developmental disorders such as autism, ADHD, dyspraxia / apraxia, speech delay, OCD, ODD and Tourette Syndrome. The basic treatments include the above diet in addition to healing the digestive system, supporting the methylation cycle and saturating the brain with healthy fats.
Thanks for reading. ”