Natural Approaches to Treating Autism

autAutism is a neurological disorder that, once rare, now affects as many as one in every 100 Australian children.  Pharmaceutical medications for treating autism are plentiful, but only mask the symptoms.  Many parents are now looking for alternative treatments that address the underlying issues associated with autism rather than simply trying to cope with the symptoms.  Two of the most effective natural approaches are nutrition and chiropractic care.

Children with autism typically have sensory issues and many food aversions, which tends to lead to a very limited diet.  This makes children with autism highly susceptible to nutritional deficiencies, especially calcium and protein.  Gastrointestinal issues are also quite prevalent in children with autism, making it difficult for them to absorb the nutrients they do consume.

Improving digestion is one of the first things to consider when treating autism naturally.  Providing supplements and healthy foods is of limited benefit when the nutrients are unable to be effectively absorbed.  Supplementing with probiotics and digestive enzymes can help repopulate the beneficial bacteria in the gut to improve nutrient absorption.

Many children with autism display some of the same symptoms that are characteristic of children with ADHD.  Like children with ADHD, autistic children can become especially hyperactive when they consume too much sugar.  Due to food aversions, it’s common for sugary foods to make up a large part of the autistic child’s diet.  Limiting sugar intake and stabilizing blood sugar levels can reduce the hyperactivity in these children.

The role of nutrition in autism has been the subject of research dating back to the 1970s.  In 1978, Dr. Bernard Rimland of the Institute for Child Behavior in San Diego, California gave 16 autistic children supplements containing vitamin B6, vitamin C and magnesium.  Of those 16 children, 12 displayed significant improvement.  The gains were lost almost immediately when Rimland replaced the supplements with a placebo.  These findings have been supported by similar studies conducted by other researchers.  Other theories suggest that vitamin A and Omega-3 fatty acids could also help children with autism.

Finding the right nutritional balance can be challenging, as each child will react differently to different foods and supplements.  Despite a lack of clinical research, some parents report their autistic children respond well to elimination of gluten, casein, food dyes, or other food components.

Chiropractic care is another natural approach to use in conjunction with nutrition to treat autism.  You know about chiropractic care for the treatment of pain, but it can also help with other conditions.

Every process in your body is controlled by the central nervous system.  Likewise, every bit of information you take in about the world around you is filtered and interpreted by the central nervous system.  When the spine is not properly aligned, the nervous system is unable to transmit signals efficiently.  While the symptoms of autism, and the severity of those symptoms, varies between those with the condition, one thing they all have in common is an inability to interact with their world in the same way as their neurotypical peers.  Chiropractic adjustments can help the nervous system function more effectively.

There is no cure for autism, but nutrition and chiropractic can help address the underlying issues, reducing the symptoms rather than simply covering them up.

If you have a child with autism and would like to reduce the need for medication, call Eastland Family Chiropractic now on 03 9095 7990 to talk to one of our pediatric chiropractors about how nutrition and chiropractic adjustments may be able to help your child achieve a higher level of functioning.

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