What is autism?

Health Canada defines Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a complex, lifelong condition…a spectrum disorder, defined by certain behaviours which come in combinations and in degrees of intensity that vary in each child and adult affected.

Below are some common symptoms associated with Autism:

Difficulty in communication
Social difficulties
Repetitive behaviors
Learning difficulties
Unusual interests or very limited interests

The Naturopathic Approach to Autism

Naturopathic medicine focuses on the causes of illnesses rather than the treatment of symptoms. In regards to Autism, the Naturopath is concerned firstly with its causes. One specific method for assessing and treating Autism is the DAN Protocol.

What is the DAN Protocol?

Conventional treatments focus on the person’s symptoms – hyperactivity, lack of attention, or difficulty communicating – rather than the causes of the disorder. Psychiatric medications are commonly used to treat these symptoms.

In contrast, the DAN (Defeat Autism Now) Protocol does not rely on psychiatric medications but uses medical testing to help determine the causes of Autism. The DAN method approaches Autism as a biomedical issue and assesses its roots and treats it in light of those causes. Practitioners believe that Autism can be linked to factors like toxins in the body, a weakened immune system, and food related issues.

Common Tests

A number of tests are used to evaluate the individual and determine how to treat them. Below are some specific tests:

Antimicrobial Testing – A large buildup of Candida albicans (a naturally occurring yeast found in the intestines, throat, mouth, and genitals), can cause a buildup of toxins. Research has shown a relationship between the overgrowth of this yeast and a number of problems and disorders, including Autism.
Oxalates Testing – These organic acids are found in certain foods or certain fungi (Aspergillus and Penicillium, and possibly Candida) and are a product of human metabolism. Reducing oxalates in the diet is linked to a reduction in the symptoms of Autism.
Metabolic Testing – The Organics Acid test gives picture of a person’s metabolism by examining 74 metabolites that are excreted through the urine.
Chemical Toxicity and Heavy Metal Testing – A buildup of toxic metals in the body, such as mercury, arsenic, and lead, can prevent normal brain development and functioning.

Naturopathic Therapies

Autism is a condition which has no cure, but can be managed. A number of naturopathic therapies have been found to be helpful in treating Autism including special diets and nutritional supplements.

Special diets have been shown to be effective in relieving some gastrointestinal issues associated with Autism and to improve other symptoms:

Low Oxalate diet – Restricting the diet to low oxalate foods and restricting the use of antibiotics.
Gluten & Casein free diet – Gluten is a protein found in grains, while casein is a protein found in dairy products.
Specific Carbohydrate diet – A diet free from simple sugars and grains.
Nutritional medicine and dietary supplements have also helped many children suffering from Autism. Examples include the additions of vitamins, such as B12, or dietary supplements, such as Omega-3 fatty acids.

Autism Programs in the Greater Toronto Area

The Greater Toronto Area is home to a number of organizations that focus on Autism in various ways. Here are a few of them along with some of the things that they offer:

The Geneva Center for Autism offers Social Skills Groups which teach children how to make and keep friends, play, and get along with others.
Autism Ontario has a variety of speech related services to help children with Autism.
The Shining Through Centre uses Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy and one on one instruction in communication, academics, play, socialization, and self-care.
Specialized schools, such as Giant Steps Toronto, give autistic children an introduction to school while preparing them for transition into mainstream schools.
Autism in Mind Children’s Charity (AIM) offers a Social Skills Program and Intensive Behaviour Intervention Therapy Program to families

Don’t Suffer Alone

For those families who have a loved one suffering from Autism, there are places to turn for help. Assist your loved one today to find the help that they need.