Biomedical View

MedicineThere is a large body of medical opinion that now states that autism is a genetically influenced, environmentally triggered disease of the brain and the body, and is treatable. Some go further and claim that it is curable, but that is subject to research that would prove that nothing else contributed to the revised assessment of the patient who is no longer deemed to be on the spectrum.

Outside of this medical perspective, there is a large body of opinion that believes that nutrients, supplements and diet can have a profound influence on the well-being of everybody, but particularly people with autism.

There is a parent-run volunteer group in England called Treating Autism who publish information and host conferences in this subject. They offer a wide range of their services to individuals who take up membership.

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Evidence-based medicine shows that:

  • Autism is epidemic (with varying levels of 1 in 166, 1 in 150 and 1 in 100, depending on age, criteria and location)
  • Autism is a medical disease, not a psychological disorder
  • Autism affects body organ systems other than the brain
  • Autism is treatable, and children are recovering.

Medical issues that have been identified include:

  • problems with the gut, usually meaning problems with digestion and/or absorption nutritional defects
  • dysbiosis (more abnormal germs than good germs)
  • problems in the immune system with allergies
  • inflammation
  • frequent infections and auto-immune disorders
  • problems in the detoxification system with an impaired ability to remove germs, allergens, chemicals and metals, with a resultant “oxidative stress”

All of us live in a toxic world. But because of some of the above, many ASD people are much more sensitive to the toxins that we are all exposed to on a daily basis.

DAN used to stands for Defeat Autism Now. This was a group of medical and scientific professionals who were brought together by Dr. Bernard Rimland, who was Director of the Autism Research Institute, in San Diego. DAN changed its name and its activities are now run by the ARI. They host regular conferences with presentations on all the above, and more. Look them up on their web-site, which includes parent surveys on the efficacy, or otherwise, of dozens of specific diets, nutrients, supplements, and medications (see the last page of this 2007 survey).

So how do we help medically? These doctors and other advocates of medical treatments for people with degenerative conditions recommend that we can treat the patient. However, treatment is not straight-forward. At a previous DAN Conference, this was illustrated by suggesting that we need to be mindful of 2 “Tax Laws”, as follows:

  1. If you are sitting on a tack, it takes a lot of pain-killer to remove the pain. The better remedy is to remove the tack
  2. If you are sitting on 2 tacks, removing the first tack doesn’t halve the pain

Some “lucky” patients have only one biomedical issue, and through a stroke of luck, hit on a “cure” (remember reading the miracle stories about Secretin), which just happens to cure that one problem that had pushed the patient onto the spectrum. But more typically, people on the spectrum have several biomedical issues that need to be addressed. Therefore, solving one doesn’t solve the overall “disease”. But, it does help, and solving one issue at a time usually leads to some improvement in the patient’s presentation of problems and challenges.

Changing the Course of AutismThere are many great books written on this subject. However, if you only get to read one, the one that stands out above all others is: "Changing the Course of Autism by Dr. Bryan Jepson. Reviews of this book are very positive. Like many others in this field, he is a doctor who became the parent of a child with autism, and found that the establishment of which he was a part was of little use to his child when it came to either acknowledging or addressing his medical needs. His book is written for both parents and fellow doctors and gives all the relevant information, together with the supporting scientific research, to help people see autism as a treatable medical disease. To help promote the reading of this book, we have included a few reviews for your consideration.

If you want a flavour of Dr. Jepson's work before you order his book, look at this video which will give you a taste of the biomedical view.

Another significant book published in this area is "Children with Starving Brains" by Dr, Jaquelyn McCandless. But there are many established books addressing this area.

An excellent, more local, source of regular information is the UK magazine "The Autism File". This is issued quarterly, and is an ongoing source of support and advice together with informative scientific content.

Autism False ProphetsIn the interests of balance, there are medics and scientists who support the opposite view, which is that autism is not in any way linked to biomedical issues, including environmental pollution, mercury, measles and heavy metals/chelation. A recent book by Dr. Paul Offit in 2008 entitled "Autism's False Prophets", is sub-titled "Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search for a Cure". This book refutes most, if not all, of the biomedical view of autism, presuming that the biomedical view is "anti-vaccine". This is not the case. Instead, people who believe in the biomedical influences recommend that parents should be mindful of taking on multiple doses of vaccines (preferring single dose programs, and when the immune system is not compromised by any ailment), as well as ensuring that there is no mercury content of vaccines. No-one is anti-vaccine. Your web-master disagrees with Dr. Offit's view, as well as other nay-sayers who reject the science published by DAN and others.

Again, please note that our disclaimer applies.