Are you worried about autism?

If you are worried about autism, it is important to get the facts and start treatment as soon as possible.

Many parents are worried about autism. Parents reach out to us when they see symptoms in their babies and toddlers that may be red flags for autism. 1 in 6 Canadian children has a developmental delay.  And, the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased over 2000% in the last 10 years.  Up 30% in the last two years alone.  If this isn’t an epidemic, I don’t know what is. Correspondingly, 1 in 66 Canadian children has autism. As a result of this increase more and more parents of babies, toddlers and children worry their child has autism.

If you are worried about autism, you are likely torn in two directions.  Firstly, to deny there is any concern and essentially bury your head in the sand. And no one would blame you for this response because worrying about autism is very scary. The other approach parents take is to frantically scour the internet for information on autism treatment.  It is for the last reason that I am writing this article. It is important to note that autism treatment is changing. Mounting evidence is identifying the medical aspects of autism.

Medical Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder:

These medical concerns are treatable and the negative aspects of autism are often reversible. This article is for all the Moms and Dads up in the middle of the night trying to face the terrifying reality that their child may have developmental delays or a developmental disorder like autism, dyspraxia, speech delay, OCD, PANDAS or ADHD.

Are you worried about autism?

Eighteen years ago, I became a DAN! Doctor and then pursued a fellowship with the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS).  MAPS and  DAN! doctors are experts in autism treatment. 

In the last 18 years, I have worked with thousands of children.  The MAPS program trains health care providers to be the best in their field in assessing, treating and preventing autism. The MAPS program is the leading biomedical training program in the world, and the only of its kind.

If your child is autistic, what can you do?

So, if you child has autism, how much should you be worried? Our clinic has worked with parents to help recover thousands of children with autism. What does RECOVERY mean? Assessing and treating the medical concerns that are decreasing your child’s ability to reach their potential.  Recovery is when your child’s body is functioning at its optimal level enhancing language, social and cognitive skills; when children regain their ability to have age level skills. Recovery is only possible with autism treatment.

Assess and treat developmental concerns as soon as you recognize them! Boys don’t speak later because they are boys. They often speak later because their methylation cycles are more susceptible to damage from toxins. Boys are more at risk for autism, ADHD and speech language delay.  Methylation impairments also lead to sleep problems. It is not normal that if your child can’t fall sleep or is up in the middle of the night laughing for no reason. Treating sleep disorders dramatically improves quality of life and developmental potential. If you are worried about autism, take action.

Autism and Digestive Problems:

If you are worried about autism, an important symptom to watch for is digestive problems. Your child should not have chronic diarrhea or constipation.  PEG FLAKES and RESTORALAX do not heal the gut and healthy digestion is critical for healthy development. The ecosystem, also called the microbiome, in the gut governs brain function. Autism treatment focuses heavily on healing the gut which helps to optimize brain function.

One of the first symptoms of autism is difficulty tracking dynamic or moving information. If your child is struggling with visual processing, they may start to look out of the sides of their eyes, line things up or avoid eye contact. Impaired visual processing is a medical concern. Treatment improves eye contact, social interaction and communication significantly improve.

If you are worried about autism, the time to take action is now.

So let’s take a look at signs and symptoms that could indicate your child needs support developmentally.  Remember, early intervention is the key to helping your child.  You do not need a diagnosis to get support for behaviour, language, social or cognitive delay. Treatment of physical symptoms like gut issues, sleep problems, skin inflammation, impaired immunity and sensory concerns is important.  If your child has “autistic” behaviours or has marked hyperactivity, acting now can dramatically change the course of their development. Not to mention, improving their quality of life and yours.

Autism Symptoms:

Autism is a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms.  Symptoms appear in infancy and early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development such as learning to talk, make eye contact, play, and interact with others.  The signs and symptoms of autism vary from mild to severe. The three major areas of concerns in autism involve language, social and cognitive function Many children with autism also have severe sensory issues (that are treatable!).

Language delay is often the first sign parents worry about when a child is on the autism spectrum.  Language delay is very common and parents are able to take steps to support speech, language development without having to tackle the question of autism head-on.  Two-year olds should speak in 2-3 word sentences or phrases that communicate their needs.  Autism is a communication disorder, and since speech is the way to communicate, delayed speech may signal autism.  Keep in mind; children with ADHD are often “late talkers”.

Behaviours and symptoms to look for if you are worried about autism:

  • Lack of eye contact or avoidance of eye contact
  • Side glancing or looking out of the side of their eyes
  • Squinting or covering eyes
  • Looking at objects or people closely
  • Moving back and forth like a “camera lens” while looking at objects or people
  • Lack of pretend or imaginary play
  • Lining up toys or severe transitional tantrums
  • No pointing or inability to imitate
  • Unusual behaviours
  • Toe walking
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Feeding issues including restricted diet
  • Sleep disturbance (many children with autism do not make enough melatonin and do not go to sleep at an age appropriate time)
  • Speech delay
  • Delayed play skills
  • Sensory issues – 90% of children with autism have sensory issues
  • Limited responsiveness – responding to their name will increase as your child gets older but many children with autism lack responsiveness

What can you do today (right now) if you are worried about your chid’s development?

  • Talk to your child’s Pediatrician about your concerns
  • Visit a developmental screening clinic
  • Read The Autism Revolution by Dr. Martha Herbert, Pediatric Neurologist and professor at Harvard University
  • Assess and treated medical concerns.  Digestive, sleep and immune issues decrease developmental potential.  Sensory issues are painful and force children to withdraw from the world.
  • Biomedical treatment of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental concerns, will dramatically improve language, social and cognitive

As a Naturopathic Doctor, my focus is on the treatment and prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders; the most important thing for parents to do is to keep track of their child’s milestones.  While all children hit milestones at slightly different times, it is crucial that infants, toddlers and children are gaining communication, social and cognitive skills on schedule.  As a parent, you never want to believe that your child has a developmental problem but when it comes to autism, catching it early makes an incredible difference.  The younger your child, the greater the impact of autism treatment on symptoms of autism, ADD/HD, OCD, speech delay, dyspraxia, PANDAS and Tourette Syndrome.

As a parent, it is crucial to track milestones, and to take action if you are concerned. Trust your instincts.  I believe strongly that the “wait and watch” approach is the worst thing to do when it comes to developmental concerns.  If you are worried about autism, seek out expert advice when you see red flags. Autism experts can help you with a plan in to find out what is going on and how advise you on how you can help.

It is important to seek medical help if your child is not hitting the following milestones:

  • 6 months – big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions
  • 9 months – back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions
  • 12 months – responding to their name being called, babbling or “baby talk”, back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving
  • 16 months – meaningful words
  • 24 months – meaningful two word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating