Autism disorders (commonly referred to as autism spectrum disorders or ASD) are a group of complex disorders that surface during the early stages of brain development. Autism disorders are characterized by social interaction difficulties, as well as nonverbal and verbal communication and repetitive behavior.
Scientists have encountered problems identifying the exact cause of autism disorders; however, they have determined a series of rare gene mutations and changes which are commonly associated with autism disorders. Most cases appear to have been caused by a combination of environmental factors that influence early brain development and autism risk genes.
Autism disorders usually manifest through a series of symptoms like limited interests in play or activities, delay in learning to talk, lack of empathy, and problems in the development of nonverbal communications skills like facial expressions, eye-to-eye gazing or body posture.
Because of these troublesome features of autism disorders, most supplement companies have started developing formulas capable of alleviating the symptoms from childhood.
Dietary supplements based on ingredients such as B-Vitamins, Taurine, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, TMG, GABA, Selenium, Folic Acid, Probiotics, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Methyl B12, and Molybdenum may help control bacteria in the gut while also improving the health of the individual suffering from an ASD.
What Are the Major Symptoms of an Autism Disorder?
The main indications of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are problems with social communication and interaction.
1) Spoken language
- Frequent repetition of set words and phrases;
- Delayed speech development (for instance, knowing less than 40 different words by the age of two), or not speaking at all;
- Preferring to communicate using single words, despite being able to speak in sentences;
- Speech that sounds very monotonous or flat.
2) Responding to others
- Refusing cuddles initiated by a parent or caregiver (although they may initiate cuddles themselves);
- Not answering to their name being called, despite having a normal hearing;
- Reacting surprisingly negatively when requested to do something by someone else.
- Playing with toys repetitively and dully, such as lining blocks up in order of color or size, rather than using them to create a building, a structure of some sort;
- Having a strong like or distaste for specific foods based on the color and texture of the food as much as the taste;
- Preferring to have a familiar routine and getting angry if there are changes to this routine;
- unusual sensory interests – for example, children with ASD may sniff toys, objects or people inappropriately;
- Having repetitive movements, such as flicking their fingers or flapping their hands, rocking back and forth.
4) Interacting with others
- Not enjoying situations that most children of their age like, such as birthday parties;
- No desire in interacting with other people, including children of a similar age;
- Not being aware of other people’s personal space, or being unusually intolerant of people entering their personal space;
- Preferring to play alone, rather than playing with other children;
- Avoiding eye contact;
- Rarely using gestures or facial expressions when communicating.
Treatment for Autism Disorders
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment, and there is no cure for autism disorders. The sole goal of therapy is to increase your child’s ability to function by decreasing ASD symptoms and supporting learning and development. Immediate intervention during the preschool years can help your child learn crucial behavioral, social, functional, and communication skills.
Your healthcare provider can recommend options and help identify resources in your area. The range of school-based and home-based interventions and treatments for ASD can be overwhelming, and your child’s needs may change over time.
If your child is diagnosed with an autism disorder, it is strongly recommended to talk to experts about planning a treatment strategy and organize a team of professionals to answer your child’s needs.
The treatment options will vary and may include:
1) Educational therapies
Individuals with ASD frequently respond well to highly structured educational therapies. Successful programs typically include a variety of activities and a team of professionals to improve behavior, communication, and social skills.
Preschool children who receive intensive, individualized behavioral interventions often show good progress.
2) Communication and behavior therapies
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) can help children learn new skills and generalize these skills in multiple situations through a reward-based motivation system. Many therapies address the range of behavioral, language, and social difficulties associated with ASD.
Some therapies focus on reducing problem behaviors and teaching new skills. Other therapies focus on teaching children how to act in social situations or communicate better with others.
3) Family therapies
Parents and other family members can learn how to interact and play with their children in ways that manage problem behaviors, encourage social interaction skills, and teach daily living skills and communication.
No medication can improve the core signs of autism disorders, but some medications can help alleviate the symptoms. For example, antidepressants can be prescribed for anxiety, antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems, and certain medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive.
Keep all healthcare providers updated on any medications or supplements your child is taking. Some medicines and supplements can interact, causing dangerous side effects.
5) Other treatment options
Depending on your child’s needs, physical therapy to improve movement and balance, occupational therapy to teach activities of daily living, and speech therapy to develop communication skills, can be beneficial. A psychologist can recommend ways to address problem behavior.
Best Natural Supplements for Autism Disorders
1) Fish Oil (1,000 mg daily)
Long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically the DHA/EPA in fish oil, is highly anti-inflammatory and is crucial for brain function. Taking supplements rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil is one of the most commonly used alternatives and complementary practices in children with autism disorders.
2) Multivitamin with a high dose of folate/folic acid (daily for pregnant women)
A study published in 2018 concludes, “Maternal exposure to folic acid and multivitamin supplements before and during pregnancy is associated with a reduced risk of ASD in the offspring compared with the offspring of mothers without such exposure.”
Professionals recommend a prenatal vitamin that contains folate rather than folic acid. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and is generally found in many supplements fortified foods.
3) Digestive enzymes (1 or 2 capsules after each meal)
Because children with ASD tend to have digestive problems and may also have leaky gut, digestive enzymes can help with the absorption of minerals and vitamins.
According to Autism Canada, digestive enzymes can reduce inflammation and improve digestion, which is very helpful since “impairments in digestion and absorption contribute to the child’s impaired nutritional status, which can, in turn, contribute to and further impair immunity, detoxification, and brain function.”
4) Vitamin D3 (2000 to 5000 IU daily)
This is a crucial vitamin required for healthy brain function. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common in children diagnosed with an autism disorder in children without autism, and a Vitamin D deficiency in a pregnant mother may also increase autism risk in her baby.
One recent clinical study even showed that autism rates are highest among babies conceived in winter months (when Vitamin D levels tend to be lowest in humans due to decreased sunlight exposure) and, furthermore, that the season of conception accounts for 11.4 percent of cases of autism, intellectual disability, and learning difficulties. This was a record-linkage study of 801,592 children in Scotland.
5) L-Carnitine (250–500 milligrams daily)
L-Carnitine is a quality ingredient in many dietary supplements today that has been shown to improve the symptoms of ASD.
A study issued in 2013 with 30 autistic children as subjects reveals that supplements with a high dose of L-Carnitine can improve behavioral symptoms. L-Carnitine therapy (100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight each day) administered for a total of six months “significantly improved the autism severity, but subsequent studies are recommended.”
6) Probiotics (50 billion units daily)
Children with autism commonly experience gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. Since autism may be connected to digestive issues, taking a good quality probiotic daily can help maintain an optimal balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and good overall intestinal health.