Posts Tagged ‘autism puzzle’

FDA Warning About Autism Treatment

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

The FDA took the time, this week (4/2017), to sound an alarm about their notion of potentially dangerous off-label ASD treatments, by issuing, “Autism: Beware of Potentially Dangerous Therapies and Products“.

The consumer update begins, “One thing that is important to know about autism up front: There is no cure for autism. So, products or treatments claiming to “cure” autism do not work as claimed. The same is true of many products claiming to “treat” autism or autism-related symptoms. Some may carry significant health risks.” Really?

What are the approved therapies?
According to the document, the antipsychotic drugs Risperdal (risperidone) and Abilify (aripiprazole) are apparently not considered to be that dangerous. Increased death rates are noted in the Physicians Desk Reference, due to the the former medication. The latter pharmaceutical agent contains this caution, “A causal role has been demonstrated with antidepressant use and emergence of suicidality in pediatric patients and young adults…”

Clinically, patients who have taken these drugs have shown markedly increased appetites (leading to obesity), exhibited new tics, demonstrated a ‘zombie-like’ affect, and have been very difficult to dose correctly. Breast enlargement and lactation have been reported with these meds, as well.

What does the FDA consider dangerous?
About metal-removing therapy, “FDA-approved chelating agents are approved for specific uses that do not include the treatment or cure of autism, such as the treatment of lead poisoning and iron overload, and are available by prescription only.” So, this government organization has determined that environmental poisoning is not a cause of autism.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment has been cleared by the “FDA only for certain medical uses, such as treating decompression sickness suffered by divers.” The document failed to mention that it has been proven effective for non-healing wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well.

Clay baths, and “… various products, including raw camel milk and essential oils. These products have been marketed as a treatment for autism or autism-related symptoms, but have not been proven safe and effective for these advertised uses.” Don’t expect millions of dollars to be poured into research about the effectiveness of these innocuous interventions.

If you wish to utilize essential oils,
do so at your own peril !

Discussion
The medical literature continues to question the usefulness of Abilify or Risperdal for the treatment of signs and symptoms of ASD. But it is perfectly clear that, even the supporting literature never makes any statement about apraxic children. Stopping the banging doesn’t produce speech. Plus, socialization only improves to the extent that these ‘safe’ drugs reduce unusual behaviors or decrease aggression.

Moreover, the body systems that are in need of repair and optimization do not get addressed – indeed, are even masked – by such a pharmacological bandaid, which leads to further complications. Often, this makes the child with increased resistance to pain even more stuck with their autistic behaviors. Difficulties in the gastrointestinal, immune, and nervous systems, go unrecognized. Mitochondrial functioning is affected, compounding metabolic challenges in this vicious cycle.

Parents seek ‘risky’ therapies because of the inadequacies of the medical profession in just about every aspect of autism diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care. Rather than elevating autism anxiety over the dangers of mostly mild, possibly helpful, but unproven interventions, we would be better served by an honest evaluation about the overuse of the ‘on-label’ products. This is especially true in disadvantaged populations. When functional medicine doctors, such as myself, utilize these drugs, it is usually as a last resort, after explaining risks/benefits to parents, with close follow-up of the patients’ condition.

Conclusion
TV commercials tout incredibly risky medications, for diseases that range from restless leg syndrome to cancer. “Ask your doctor,” we are told, “if this is a good drug for you!” Then, a list of very scary side effects is enumerated. Well, you could just ‘ask your doctor’ if camel milk will cause seizures or death.

Parents of children with developmental challenges have plenty of work to do, just getting through each day. This useless memorandum will, most probably, simply be ignored. For those who feel that the consumer update was produced to pursue some financial and/or political motivation, and/or is another example of bureaucratic waste, you may feel compelled to address the (ir)responsible organization (click here).

Stem Cell Therapy for Autism… cont’d

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

As doctors try to understand and consider various emerging therapies for patients experiencing signs and symptoms of autism, the question of Stem Cell therapy has come to the fore. A Duke University professor barreled onto the scene, recently, with a pronouncement that sounds like a cure, even though it’s not.

Understanding the study
The project is Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Efficacy of Umbilical Cord Blood to Improve Outcomes for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This was the first phase. The goals were to determine safety, and to evaluate the usefulness of a variety of tests to assess whether the treatment works.

Does giving a child’s own cells, which were collected from the umbilical cord at birth, back into their bloodstream, result in any adverse events? The report broadcast on CNN focused on a 7 year-old who seemed nearly OK, playing with her older, neurotypical sister. The treatment had taken place a couple of years earlier.

Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, one of the researchers, proclaimed, “We saw improvements in 6 months…” She used the word curative twice in the same sentence, even though her point was ignorance of that outcome. She concluded the interview with, “of course we have to do a placebo controlled randomized trial to answer the question…” The Dad was more realistic, as he commented, “The autism is still there…”

The research involved 25 children, 2 – 6 years old, who had banked cord blood available. “Significant improvements in children’s behavior were observed,” in the majority of children, and “were greater in children with higher baseline nonverbal intelligence quotients.”

“Assessment of adverse events across the 12-month period indicated that the treatment was safe and well tolerated,” claims the abstract. In fact, agitation was a common complaint, requiring additional medications, as the infusion was administered. The authors admitted, “As an uncontrolled open-label study, it is not possible to determine whether the observed behavioral changes were due to the treatment or reflect the natural course of development during the preschool period.”

Discussion
When considering such an extreme treatment, the primary driving force should be the child’s degree of involvement with their developmental challenges. If your youngster is proceeding on an acceptable trajectory, 1) Is it worth the known, and unknown, risks? and, 2) What improvements are you actually seeking? In this study, as in other successful biomedical protocols, the less-affected patients showed the best improvement.

This investigation was done under rigorous conditions by highly trained university personnel, and utilized the patients’ own cord blood. Do stem cell centers around the world offer a similar degree of confidence as regards cleanliness, safety, follow-up, or the ability to handle emergencies? Are outcomes the same when using fat cells that have been turned into stem cells (explained in my previous blogs on this topic)?

The type of autism has got to be a factor, as well. Would a patient with a significant chromosomal variation or metabolic disease, for example, experience the same improvement?

On a positive note, it is encouraging to observe that the conventional research community implicitly concurs that successful treatment involves “modulating inflammatory processes in the brain addressing the reduction of body inflammation to improve ASD.”

Conclusion
We all wish to see a real breakthrough in autism treatment. It appears that stem cell therapy may represent a significant advance. But, that is all that it will represent. Children will still have yeast, and need follow-up labs, and ABA, and Speech therapy. Stem cell intervention seems to represent another, maybe better, certainly more costly, alternative protocol.

Thankfully, Phase II, a randomized, controlled study to assess efficacy, is now underway.

Getting the Most from Behavioral Therapies

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

The ever-increasing number of children who experience significant developmental problems requires a proportional addition of skilled professionals for assessment and intervention.

At The Child Development Center, we have noted the emergence of certain patterns of treatment choices. Intelligent, involved parents express their concern about the paucity of well-trained professionals, the cost of treatment, the lack of insurance, and frustration with the speed or course of their child’s progress.

Applied Behavioral Analysis
The general consensus is that the proven protocols of behavioral intervention are most likely to result in significant symptom reduction in patients with ASD. As reported in the 2001 publicationEducating Children with Autism, “teaching parents how to use pivotal response training as part of their applied behavioral analysis instruction resulted in happier parent-child interactions, more interest by the parents in the interaction, less stress, and a more positive communication style. The use of effective teaching methods for a child with autism can have a measurable positive impact on family stress. As a child’s behavior improves and his or her skills become more adaptive, families have a wider range of leisure options and more time for one another… To realize these gains, parents must continue to learn specialized skills enabling them to meet their child’s needs.”

Why does utilization of ABA lag behind other treatments
in so many regions around the country?

The prevalence of children with autism is outstripping the number of qualified, interested therapists. Economic pressures appear to dictate direct provision of services by paraprofessionals who are properly supervised. Therefore, the most efficient providers frequently observe, evaluate, and mentor the less-experienced staff. For-profit companies may find such practice difficult to maintain.

Insurance companies regularly find a way to weasel out of their commitments, many times in spite of outside mandates or even advertised benefits. Denial of payment for services may take the form of incorrect coding, credentialing, and timeliness of payment. Providers are, therefore, less likely to accept their (lack of) coverage.

There are a variety of types of behavioral intervention; including DTT, EIBI, PRT, VBI, DIR, TEACCH, OT, Sensory Integration Therapy, Speech Therapy, and PECS. Devotees of each claim superiority of their strategy. Such a smorgasbord may confuse even the most attentive parent.

Discussion
Recovery from the major challenges that accompany an autism diagnosis is an exhausting journey for the whole family. Traditional therapies are the proven tools to enable a successful transformation. They are an important consideration that must be offered to every patient. Parents should use their common sense, plus their unique understanding of the child, to assess whether the plan of action really applies. Does the suggested intervention make sense? Does the child ‘click’ with the therapist(s)?

When professionals continue to insist that 1) you are not doing the right thing at home or 2) your child can’t improve in some particular function, it’s imperative to seek additional assistance. Maybe the provider is correct, but little progress will occur if the parties continue to debate.

I often advise parents who are concerned about some ‘magic’ 25-40 hour ABA requirement, that a good OT, or PT, etc., has learned to be effective by utilizing a variety of techniques. Therefore, you can add up the various interventions, and will frequently find that you don’t need to feel guilty about that numeric stipulation.

As children improve, the challenges of proper socialization and self-control become the most difficult and lingering concern. This may require an entirely new and unique skill-set to come to the fore.

Conclusion
All interested professionals; including chiropractors, acupuncturists, alternative and traditional practitioners, can be important members of the village trying to get your child on the right track. Because the present state-of-the-art is in such flux, the correct combination of traditional and alternative protocols provides the best chance for a successful outcome.

A(nother) Laboratory Test(s) for Autism

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

A key piece of the autism puzzle appears to have been confirmed in an article published this week in the Public Library of Science Open Access Journal, Computational Biology. The title of the article is Classification and adaptive behavior prediction of children with autism spectrum disorder based upon multivariate data analysis of markers of oxidative stress and DNA methylation.

The news has already been reported in popular media as “A Blood Test for Autism“. Here is my clinical interpretation.

The Study
The data was collected from patients in previous studies, and included 83 children, aged 3-10 years, with ASD. Utilizing very dense, complicated statistics that were based on biochemical laboratory data, researchers identified neurotypical vs. autistic individuals, who already had the diagnosis, based on conventional developmental testing.

The chosen pathways evaluated abnormalities in methylation, an epigenetic function, and detoxification.

Specificity and sensitivity were very reliable, “96.1% of all neurotypical participants being correctly identified as such while still correctly identifying 97.6% of the ASD cohort.”

Discussion
Contrary to what the headlines proclaim, this is not a single test; it’s research material that is based on a number of not-yet-readily-available laboratory findings.

The biomarkers represent a final common pathway, not necessarily a cause. Although the data correlated with autism ‘scores’, it really wasn’t meant to discriminate for the various kinds of developmental challenges, such as those children who are mostly aggressive, immune, apraxic, or suffer gastrointestinal abnormalities.

Such an analysis begs the question, “Can it be used for prospective improvement – to follow course of the condition?”

Conclusion
The modern epidemic of childhood autism is extremely complicated and difficult to pin down for research purposes. This study renders a modern means to evaluate a myriad of variables. The metabolic pathways under scrutiny represent a confirmation of the roles of genes and toxins.

As with other ‘earliest diagnosis’ studies, this paper serves to solidify the concept that earlier diagnosis should lead to earlier interventions, with improved outcomes.

For those of us who are practicing ‘alternative’ medicine, it is comforting to rediscover that the treatments included in our modern arsenal of biomedical protocols are consistent with these findings.

Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs Spring 2017 Conference

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

At the conference with Yale prof Dr. Sid Baker – one of the originators of biomedical treatment

If practitioners wish to become more effective in the diagnosis and treatment of children who suffer developmental challenges, it will require a new paradigm. Therefore, attending conferences, such as the Simons Foundation for Autism Research, the Autism Research Institute, and the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs, is essential to acquiring that knowledge.

This year’s advanced sessions introduced a completely new functional medicine topic – Hormones from Pregnancy to Teens. Dr. Cindy Schneider examined the differences between the brain anatomy, physiology, and chemistry that might explain how ASD affects males vs. females, and the consequences as we age. Additionally, there are the special complications incurred throughout puberty, with important implications regarding effective treatments.

Dr. Stephen Genuis‘ presentations, Hormone Disrupting Agents, provided a fascinating complement to that lecture. He highlighted the chronic nature of ASD, and the disrupting effects of toxic agents in our modern environment. A key component is the toxic load; if topical agents represent ounces, ingested compounds represent pounds, and the air that we breathe can be expressed in tons of potential poisonous compounds. And, it takes months or years to eliminate what takes days or weeks to ingest. He also pointed out that medical school curricula and training in toxicology is woefully inadequate.

Dr. Lynne Mielke rounded out the day by submitting actual case histories of young people with mysterious medical problems. Her background includes personal experience, extensive knowledge and patient care. This physician’s psychiatric/neurological point-of-view was especially insightful and provided valuable material that directly applied to the audience’s practice population.

Day 2
Another novel and exciting topic was Preconception Care: A New Standard of Care in Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Dr. Genuis discussed the increased risks of preterm birth, Caesarian section delivery, and chronic childhood illness, such as cancers, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, autism and  ADHD.
He presented the emerging research of toxicant exposures and nutritional deficiencies that continue to escalate. Metabolic disruptions may easily ensue, leading to many of the persistent disorders that are now experienced by an increasing number of children, although they may look perfectly normal at birth.

Such difficulties seem imminently preventable in the population, and there appears to be a lack of awareness in the majority of obstetricians. Even fathers who are exposed to toxic agents may become a vector for such later difficulties. Dr. Genuis then discussed the means to eliminate the myriad of  toxins – mostly by sweating, but some by other means, such as fasting or medication.

Dr. Elizabeth Mumper followed with an in-depth discussion about the lack of awareness of proper nutrition, environmental factors, the hazards of indiscriminate use of antibiotics, and poorly researched vaccinations, which appear to be significant factors leading to autism. She even offered another alternative schedule for high-risk infants and toddlers.

Nutritionist Robert Miller presented a very dense lecture, attempting to answer the complicated question, “What can be done about all of those new-fangled genetics tests?” Suffice it to say, that offering will take some time to digest.

Day 3
The lectures consisted of an assortment of the faculty’s most difficult cases. Experts included Drs. Baker, Frye, and Neuenschwander; and the audience wasn’t too shabby, either. Case histories were offered about families who experience unimaginable, incomprehensible challenges; from self-mutilation, to children attempting suicide (sometimes, successfully), to attacks on their caregivers.

The take-home items from such discussions are simply, “How can we prevent this, and successfully treat our population?”

Conclusion
It’s fortuitous that Dr. Ratajczek’s article, which examined the research about vaccine safety, was published at the time of this seminar. Participants have been wringing our hands about the ‘disconnect’ between what we (and many parents) experience every day, and conventional medicine’s dogma. The article might act as fuel-to-the-fire for some, be ignored by the majority, but represents some slight measure of vindication for our hard-working tribe.

We are getting only marginally closer to our understanding about the cause(s), treatment(s), and prevention(s) for autism. Much more research is needed. The Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs provides a valuable platform for presenting, evaluating, and disseminating such expertise.

Observations on an Autism Workshop

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

March 5, 2017.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be part of a panel for the South Florida Autism Charter Schools‘ medical workshop. In attendance were ~50 parents, and a group of 9 professionals; including dentists, a pediatric neurologist, an Ob-Gyn, a pediatrician, a psychologist and behavioral therapist.

My role was to answer questions regarding the biomedical approach to ASD.
Here are some of the things that I learned:

Parents are extremely frustrated by the lack of available services for special needs patients. “He’s too big for our MRI machine,” or “They do not know how to handle her aggression,” were common complaints. Frankly, the presenters had few useful suggestions that the families hadn’t already attempted.

Therapists and administrators wanted to be sure that parents take advantage of all available means for relief, such as following up with a medication schedule, and notifying appropriate personnel about serious issues in a timely manner.

There was a general dissatisfaction about the medical community’s lack of understanding regarding special needs families. Since the panel was composed of busy professionals willing to give up a Saturday morning, they were basically ‘preachin’ to the choir’.

Everyone agreed that the ideal situation would be a ‘one-stop shop’ for patients to get all necessary testing and treatment. Cancer Treatment Centers of America, for example, advertises that availability, and many facilities now afford such service. It may be some time before supply catches up to the demand, for special needs children, however.

I enjoyed an in-depth discussion with Dr. Jose Berthe about the proper time, types of evaluation, and medical interventions, as girls with developmental challenges get older.

Dr. Yadira Martinez-Fernandez contributed her comprehensive knowledge of autism and cardiac health. Affected children who suffer genetic or other complicated disorders, or who take certain medications, may be at an increased risk, which can be ascertained by appropriate evaluation, such as blood pressure monitoring, or an EKG.

The dental experts reviewed their approach to oral health; from how to get a successful visit, to evaluation and treatment of the common symptom of teeth grinding.

Dr. Carrie Landess provided her unique perspective and valuable insights, as a pediatric neurologist who is also the parent of a child with ASD.

My good friend and colleague, Dr. Linda Colon, offered several practical solutions for the challenged families’ concerns. The general pediatric community would find a great deal more cooperation from families, were they to adopt her thoughtful and empathetic point-of-view toward the autism epidemic.

Dr. Moodie, the Executive Director, is a fireball. Her experience, knowledge, insight, and dedication is leading to tangible changes in the care of children with developmental difficulties.

Conclusion
Parents want – and deserve – more answers, better service, and faster roads to improvement for their special needs children. The South Florida Autism Charter School is doing a great job in providing a tangible means toward those ends.

What to Expect from Biomedical Treatment for Autism and ADHD

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

As in any medical condition, it is entirely fair for parents to inquire about the timing of improvements, after undertaking biomedical intervention to improve signs and symptoms in their children who are affected with ASD. “How will we know if it’s working? When will my child get better?”

Factors affecting speed of recovery
How severely the child scores, according a standardized test for autism, is a major factor in assessing the time it may take for reversal of symptoms. For those in denial, this can be a wake-up call. For the parent who ‘already knew’, it represents a starting point. The time that it will take to observe improvement is generally proportional; from mildly affected to very disturbed development, taking from 6 months to many years until improvement is noted.

Perhaps interestingly, children who score very ‘low’ (few autistic characteristics) may turn out to take more time than might be expected. That could be due to the mysterious nature of their particular developmental delay, and ‘putting our finger’ on how to address individual obstacles takes investigation and various trials.

The degree of a child’s inability to communicate – from the severity of speech apraxia to social isolation – is proportional to the time it will take for advancement. Whether due to biomedical intervention, or just maturation, it becomes extremely worrisome if this achievement takes more than 18 months. After initiating biomedical intervention, kids who simply begin to even copy the therapist will make faster gains.

Self-injurious behaviors and aggression greatly impede advancement in all domains. Such conduct is frequently gut-related, so a thorough workup and effective treatment should take precedence over any other interventions. The time it takes to get this system under control is predictive of speedier success.

Factors not necessarily related to timing of improvement
Intelligence is not in question for most patients. In fact, it seems that the brightest kids are the most likely to manipulate their family and therapists, sometimes slowing down their own improvement. Often, behavioral intervention (of some type) is key to achieving compliance and self-control.

Sensory issues may continue for many years, even after the children are mostly ‘better’. In fact, this may be the lingering issue for which parents seek treatment, and a major cause of inattention and social anxiety.

Immaturity is common, leading to tantrums and issues with self-control, and proceeds slower than neurotypical children. Peer pressure from role models and family members accelerates this troublesome problem.

Discussion
It is sometimes difficult to get our heads around the chronicity of this developmental condition. All children experience good days/ bad days; it appears exaggerated with ASD, and some medical problems recur (yeast, e.g.).

When first diagnosed, if a parent could be certain that their child may only experience leftover sensory, hyperactive, or focus issues, they would probably be okay with that future. Not all patients suffer even those lingering difficulties.

Many families have witnessed accelerated development resulting from biomedical intervention. Parents, teachers, and even doctors will avow visible progress.

Conclusion
Autism is a collection of conditions that emanate from a variety of sources. As the diagnosis becomes more precise, outcomes will be based on information, such as genetics, metabolism, and immune function, and expected outcomes will become more accurate, as well.

I advise parents to watch for little goals.  ‘Recovery’, ‘reversal’, ‘optimal outcome’, ‘normal’ are journeys that begin with small steps.

Frustrating as it may be, regardless of speed, it is the sustained, forward trajectory of development that appears to be of upmost importance as parents consider, “Will my child make it?”

Processing Disorders are Autism

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

With all of the professionals who care for individuals experiencing signs and symptoms that are presently classified as ASD, it isn’t surprising that the organization of problems reflects the point of view of each discipline.

To the extent that nomenclature describes identifiable, clearly understood pathways, it can improve our understanding of function (or the lack thereof), as it relates to structure (but not necessarily vise-versa). Often, however, researchers utilize long, complicated terms that merely restate the obvious. Such designations may not provide additional insight, which is sorely needed if we are to reverse the named condition.

Selective eating disorder = picky eater

Visual processing disorder = sees things differently

Auditory processing disorder = hears things differently

Sensory processing disorder = feels things differently

Oppositional defiance disorder = responds to everything the opposite way

Attention deficit disorder = won’t focus on non-preferred activities

Hyperactivity disorder = can’t sit still

ADHD = both of the above

Sleep disorder = takes longer to fall asleep, wakes up frequently, or both

Social anxiety disorder = uncomfortable around others

Obsessive compulsive disorder = repetitive behaviors and restricted interests

Cognitive processing disorder =?Executive functioning disorder = ?Motor planning disorder = ?expressive language deficiency = ?receptive language disruption = ?doesn’t (appear to) learn/listen/remember.

Discussion
Each of these labels accurately reflects some condition frequently experienced by individuals with ASD. Professionals may utilize such information to address a patient’s issues, but it can be quite confusing when complex jargon is invoked to explain an intervention to the family.

“Why is my child exhibiting this aberrant behavior?” Until much more research identifies actual, measurable, specific physiological states, my response is, “Signals sometimes go to the right place and can perform the appropriate function, the wrong place and lead to an incorrect response, or just bounce around and diminish.”

At least, an understanding about, and explanation of, similar terms utilized by other disciplines would ease parents’ concerns that, “Somebody missed something,” about their child.

Conclusion
I recently spoke with a mom who was told about a feedback loop issue in her child with motor planning deficiencies and sensory processing difficulties. Each therapist provided a valid diagnostic label. I suggested that she focus on the skills required in order for her 4 year-old to play with other children.

Rather than invoking esoteric, complicated language as to theoretical cause, the focus should be on assisting patients’ ability to achieve required skills, such as spontaneous speech, self-control, eye contact, motor proficiency and socialization.

Smooth, efficient processing between our body and brain is the goal. In human development, when systems fail to mesh in the correct fashion, what we observe is called autism.

Optimal Outcome for Autism

Sunday, February 5th, 2017
1/30/17 Email to TheAutismDoctor.com 
Hello, 
I am a student doing a research paper on the over-diagnosis of autism. Do you think the over diagnosis of autism is rising? …Thank you and your response is greatly appreciated!

Dr. Udell
There is a controversy about whether or not autism is being ‘over diagnosed’, or it is simply being recognized more accurately. If earlier recognition of the problem results in fewer children with school problems, it might not matter what the condition is called.

With all of the confusion about autism diagnosis, it probably isn’t that surprising that a youngster in today’s world, writing a school report on autism, chose ‘over-diagnosis’ as her main focus.

Over-diagnosis?
Last year, a paper entitled, Diagnosis lost: Differences between children who had and who currently have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis was popularly presented as, Government Study Suggests Autism Overdiagnosed.

Research appearing more recently, Evidence of a reduction over time in the behavioral severity of autistic disorder diagnoses could have engendered a similar conclusion.

Changing the paradigm
Appearing in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences was an important document that will further diagnosis and treatmentOptimizing Outcome in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
ASD can result in a wide range of outcomes,
from need for lifelong care to successful adult functioning.

Intensive behavioral intervention can change the course of development and outcome, especially if intervention begins in early childhood.

To receive effective early intervention, the individual
must be detected, and then diagnosed early.

Screeners for autism are effective; some concerned stakeholder organizations endorse universal autism screening at 18 to 24 months.

Children from economically disadvantaged or ethnic minority families are detected and diagnosed up to 2 years later, delaying their access to intervention and limiting their outcome.

To detect ASD in early childhood and reduce treatment disparities, physician surveillance and elicitation of parental concerns should be augmented by universal screening.

The author concluded:

“The cost of effective early intervention is significant; however, the impact of failing to provide this intervention in long-term costs and unrealized human potential is much greater.”

This week, ScienceDaily reportedResearchers outline new policies for earlier detection of autism in children. ABC News reported, “Autism diagnosis spike linked to change in understanding of spectrum, study finds.”

Much better!

Discussion
This information should improve our understanding of the true spectrum of signs and symptoms that are characterized as ASD, and provide methods to address the situation.

It outlines clinicians’ early responsibility to assist the family in checking for red flags; over-diagnosing, God forbid, a newly perceived developmental anomaly. Nomenclature notwithstanding, there are delays that can be ameliorated, especially with earlier recognition.

Conclusion
Importantly, these guidelines expose what children need, if not precisely how they arrived with the developmental challenges. From a biomedical standpoint, it highlights a pediatric specialists’ need to understand an appropriate workup, rather than an old-fashioned hand-off to another specialist.

Fecal Transplants and Autism Therapies

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Recent media attention about a study involving a small group of children with ASD, who were treated with a specific protocol that included fecal transplantation, has spawned a slew of questions about this complicated protocol.
TheAutismDoctor response (so far):

What do these other autism therapies have in common?

•Probiotics – healthy bacteria (and, sometimes yeast).
•Prebiotics – food that fosters better bacteria.
•Special diets- nourishment that helps to reduce toxins, bad bacteria, or yeast.
Helminth therapy – administering live intestinal parasites into a patient’s stomach to reset the micro-biome.
Digestive enzymes – fostering more complete breakdown of foodstuff. This includes CM-AT powder; an experimental protocol utilizing “… a proprietary enzyme that is designed as a granulated powder taken three times daily.”
Turmeric, resveratrol, acai, and other antioxidants.
•Anti-fungal and antibacterial medications and supplements.

RIGHT! They all contribute to improved gastrointestinal health.

What else do they have in common?

•Physicians who explore and treat the enteric system to reduce negative behaviors know the success of such a protocol. However, this view is not a popular subject in the scientific literature, nor commonly accepted by the conventional medical community.
•Such interventions are generally short lived, with frequent recurrences.
•Improvements may seem to diminish with subsequent treatment.

Even hyperbaric oxygen therapy, stem cell therapy, chlorine dioxide, and chemical chelation may achieve their gains through this pathway.

How do they differ?

•Some protocols make some patients better, some have no effect, some produce adverse effects.
•Some are relatively inexpensive, other may cost thousands of dollars.
•They achieve change by a variety of biome-altering methods.

What is a Fecal transplant?

•Simply put, this treatment involves taking fecal material from a healthy individual, and transferring it into another individual’s intestines, by a variety of means, including pills, naso-gastric tubes, and colonoscopy. The procedure was first documented more than 60 years ago.

•For severe gastrointestinal problems in adults, the procedure was reviewed earlier in this century in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology. “This form of therapy has now reached primetime and should be used in any patient that has been resistant to therapy of recurrent attacks.”

What was this research?

•18 children, aged 7-16 years, with ASD and moderate to severe GI problems, were subjected to a “… modified <fecal microbiota transfer> protocol… involved 14 days of oral <antibiotic> treatment followed by… fasting with bowel cleansing, then repopulating gut microbiota by administering a high initial dose of Standardized Human Gut Microbiota… either orally or rectally followed by daily, lower maintenance oral doses with <antacids> for 7–8 weeks… Participants were followed for an additional 8 weeks after treatment ended…”

•”Substantial changes in GI and ASD symptoms were observed…  and those improvements were maintained after 8 weeks of no treatment… Only two… were designated as non-responders…”

Discussion
The authors in this paper noted that, “… it appears likely that extended treatment… over many weeks, as done in this study, is necessary to observe these benefits.” They concluded that, “While this study was an open-label trial that is subject to placebo effects, these results are promising and provide a crucial step for understanding the connection between the microbiome and ASD. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study is the next step to investigate the value of Microbiota Transfer Therapy in treating children with ASD and GI problems.”

For the foreseeable future, Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) will not be covered under health insurance. Presently, the cost for eradication of Clostridia difficile (a common organism that causes severe bowel disease) exceeds $3000 for short term treatment.

Conclusions
FMT represents a promising remedy for many of the disruptive behaviors that patients may exhibit. At the very least, it assists in heightening the awareness of the gut-brain connection, especially in ASD.

While parents are all desperate for a cure, this may simply represent another link in the chain that points to gut health as a major contributor of signs and symptoms involved in one type of autism. More research about this therapy needs to be undertaken before safety and efficacy can be assured.

Because of the required resources and time, it will take a while for this treatment to take hold, even by doctors who specialize in this type of patient.

As an increasing number of parents wish to explore this option, with practitioners who are available to work with them, valuable information will be gained for the multitude of other families who seek relief from this modern developmental disorder.

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Brian D. Udell MD
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