Natural Treatments for Autism

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Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 04/16/2015

Natural Treatments for Autism

Liam was a bright, curious, exceptionally social child who talked up a storm and loved to play and explore—until around 18 months of age, when he began to regress. By the time he was two and a half, he was not only failing to meet developmental milestones, but he no longer spoke or interacted with others. Shortly before his fourth birthday, he was diagnosed with regressive autism

His parents tried a number of drug-free treatments for autism including speech and behavioral therapy, an allergen-free diet, and fish oil and other supplements with noticeable benefits. But improvements really kicked into high gear when six-year-old Liam came to Whitaker Wellness. At the clinic, we treated him with neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that helps normalize brainwave patterns, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

At the end of his fifteenth neurofeedback session, Liam formulated—without any prompting—his first full sentence: “I’m hungry.” His mom, Susan, who couldn’t have been more surprised and delighted, recently updated us on Liam’s progress:

Liam’s Remarkable Progress

“Liam is putting together more words, including two-word phrases such as drink please, park play, go car, and my bed. He has also started using short sentences like ‘More juice, please. Thank you.’ His level of understanding has also improved noticeably to everyone who has regular contact with him. It’s nice to hear others point out these positive changes.

“Socially, Liam has made huge strides. He no longer has severe anxiety in crowds and has begun engaging in group activities. At a recent visit to a water park, he was taking turns chasing another child. Interactive play like that, regardless of how simple, is a huge leap for Liam.

“We are encouraged by these improvements and hope to return to Whitaker Wellness for another round of treatment. We would also like to encourage other parents and shed light on natural treatments for autism since far too often parents are given no hope at all for their children, just as we were. It’s a good thing we didn’t listen to those so-called experts or Liam wouldn’t have made the significant progress he has so far!”

Drug-Free Treatments for Autism 

As Liam’s story illustrates, treating autism is challenging. Many parents turn to natural treatments for autism in lieu of dangerous, side-effect-riddled drugs like Ritalin, Prozac, and Risperdal typically offered by conventional physicians. According to a survey by the Autism Research Institute (ARI) involving thousands of autistic children, these medications improve behavior in fewer than half of the children who take them, and they make things worse, both behaviorally and physically, in about the same number.

Drug-free treatments for autism, on the other hand, were found in the same survey to be equally effective, and they rarely—if ever—cause problems. Let’s take a closer look at some of these therapies.

New Hope With Neurofeedback

The natural treatment for autism that helped Liam and many others is neurofeedback, a biofeedback therapy that helps normalize brainwave patterns. Neurofeedback simply identifies patterns associated with negative symptoms and provides feedback that encourages the production of more positive patterns—such as slowing brainwaves down, speeding them up, or acting on excitatory/inhibitory pathways. And, unlike conventional biofeedback, in which you concentrate and willfully try to change physiological reactions, you’re not “telling” your brain to calm down or rev up. This therapy focuses more or less on a subconscious level.

Neurofeedback has been studied in hundreds of clinical trials as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including autism, epilepsy, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, tinnitus, fibromyalgia, migraines, impulsivity, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. The studies are impressive, but the enthusiastic reactions of our patients are even more striking.

Treating Autism With Nutrition 

Many children with autism are plagued with gastrointestinal abnormalities such as imbalances in gut bacteria and leaky gut syndrome. This can lead to allergies that exacerbate physical and behavioral symptoms. The most common dietary allergens are casein in dairy products and gluten, which is found in wheat, spelt, rye, and barley. Studies show that eliminating these items from the diet usually leads to improvements in symptoms.

Sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, coloring agents, and hydrogenated oils are also problematic and should be off limits. Avoidance of mercury-containing fish and eating only pesticide-free produce is also recommended.

Because these kids often have poor nutritional status due to digestive problems and limited food choices, targeted nutritional supplementation is very important. In a landmark study of autistic children, more than half were found to be deficient in vitamins A, B1, B3, B5, biotin, selenium, zinc, magnesium, essential amino acids, and omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. In addition to a good multivitamin and mineral supplement, positive results have been noted with additional vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin C, zinc, and fish oil, as well as digestive enzymes and probiotics.

Other Natural Treatments for Autism

Speech therapy and a range of sensory and behavioral interventions are also recommended, and the earlier they are started the better. Other effective yet overlooked therapies include glutathione and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

Glutathione is a crucial antioxidant and detoxifier that’s in short supply in children with autism. Levels can be increased by administering glutathione intravenously, through the skin, or with special oral preparations. HBOT, which involves breathing 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized chamber, is a highly effective treatment for brain and neurological disorders. Its popularity for children with autism is growing as parents report sometimes dramatic improvements in speech, behavior, and sociability.

Where to Get Drug-Free Treatments for Autism

If there’s a child in your life who has autism, don’t give up hope. To find a physician in your area who may be familiar with these natural treatments for autism, visit www.acam.org. For hyperbaric oxygen, glutathione, or neurofeedback treatment at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, either call 1-866-642-1018 or fill out this form to receive a complimentary consultation with one of our Patient Services Representatives.  

Now it’s your turn: Do you know of any other natural treatments for autism? 

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DISCLAIMER: The content of DrWhitaker.com is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

 
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