How A Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner Approaches Autism
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This rate is significantly higher than it was in 1970 (1 in 1000 children); in 1995 (1 in 500 children); and even in 2001 (1 in 250 children). Genetics alone doesn’t explain the pervasive growth of autism and autism spectrum disorders at such staggering rates, since human genetics remains the same as it was decades ago.
Autism is a diagnosis that is a list of symptoms on paper. There’s a wide range of autism, what we call the autism spectrum. But the functional medicine viewpoint looks at the whole child, the whole individual. And if you’ve met one person, one child with autism, you’ve met one person, one child with autism—each one is different, each one unique.
So how do functional medicine doctors approach it? They look at genetics, at the gut, and at micronutrients. It’s a series of tests to determine what’s going on at the root cause. And then they address each root cause and try to rid the body of inflammation to help it detoxify, to provide the nutrients that the person needs. They make recommendations to meet the nutrients and nourishments the body needs. They also address food plans.
Food is so profound. In children with autism, a functional medicine pediatrician will remove casein from the diet. Afterwards, the children are able to improve their language. They’re able to improve their eye contact as well.
The functional medicine standpoint acknowledges that there is a wide range of severities as well as causes for children with autism. Autism is multifactorial; it’s different for every child and every adult that has been diagnosed with it. Autism doctors using the functional medicine approach look for the imbalances in the patient’s body that trigger autism.
Certified functional medicine practitioners will work to decrease the inflammation in the patient’s body that affects brain development. They will also recommend a gluten-free and dairy-free diet trial; this is because gluten and dairy contain components that cross the blood-brain barrier and affect the neurological system.
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