Medical problems potentially contributing to autism was one of the first sessions I attended at last years National Autism Conference. Given by a MAPS doctor, Dr. Dan Rossignol, it certainly overflowed with information for parents and medical professionals alike. Dr. Rossignol is a speaker who has two children with autism. He walks the same road every other autism parent walk so he can really relate to the problems autism dishes out.
Dr. Rossignol is very approachable as well as willing to answer questions at any time. He freely gives out his Twitter handle and email address at the beginning of the presentation. He tells the facts as well as his opinion and what he would do if it was one of his children.
Every medication is considered off use for autism except risperdone aka Risperdal and aripiprazole aka Abilify. Most mainstream doctors don’t know squat about autism although they like to sound like they do. No child or person should be in pain or miserable just because they have a developmental disorder. The fact that they often can’t articulate their feelings exacerbates the situation. The FDA has no approved treatments for autism as it is considered a mental illness. Rossignol believes that autism is a disorder not a disease. A diagnosis of autism tells us next to nothing about the actual cause of autism. Anti psychotic medications like the ones listed above treat the symptoms not the cause of the psychosis. In 1978, autism was classified as childhood schizophrenia.
Rossignol firmly believes that there is a symbiotic association between humans and their intestinal micro flora. In 1889, there were case studies of insanity resulting from severe constipation. In 1932, some mental illness was helped using colonic irrigation. The same types of cells that help protect the blood brain barrier also help you to have a healthy gut ratio.
Autistic behaviors can have a gut answer. Constipation is a metabolism and/or a mitochondrial issue. Chronic diarrhea is actually a major sign of constipation. The intestines get so blocked that the feces can’t make it through unless they liquify around it. Rossignol has a plethora of poop pictures to solidify (no pun intended) his point. A child with a distended stomach (we affectionately called it a Buddha belly in Logan ) has an impaction in his intestines causing great distress. An xray can show the amount of impaction and the location. Why though are the majority of children with autism in gastric distress?
Diet. For some unknown reason, children with autism react to certain foods causing leaky gut. In a study of 2000 ASD kids, 58% of them under the age of 5 as well as 68% of them older than 5 had a lactose deficiency. This is the bodies inability to digest lactose. Celiac disease (the body’s inability to digest gluten) is a neurological condition. Gluten can increase seizure activity. In a 2005 study published in Neuropyschology, 97% of the children who went on a gluten and casein free diet that had GI issues showed improvement.
An elimination diet where foods are taken out as behaviors are noted is the most reliable allergy test for children with autism. Start by removing gluten and casein. Continue taking out foods,preservatives and artificial dyes, Look for improvements in behavior as well as in GI issues. Keep subtracting and adding back in as you see improvement. For Logan we started with gluten and casein. Then we removed soy and corn as well as all artificial dyes and sweeteners. We did this with every food he ate one at a time until we had a list of foods to avoid. For him it was gluten,casein, peanuts, pineapple, radishes, apricots, bananas and cane sugar . All dyes and preservatives were taken out as well.
Rossignol is a believer in the autism gut connection no doubt about it. He has seen improvements in his children as well as his patients. So much improvement that it is the first thing he looks at in new patients. All new patients are put on the gluten casein free elimination diet at the first appointment. He has seen it work time and time again. It’s experiences like his that are worth more than gold. I’ll take his first hand experience over a convoluted study any day.
Need some gluten free ideas? I have a Pinterest board for just that purpose!