It is time as chiropractors to step out of the shadows and help these families struggling with autism. I truly believe our training and philosophies enable us to identify root causes of disease and in turn achieve healing in our patients. I would like to take you through the ABC’s of autism through my eyes and expertise in hopes you can help in my mission to heal every child we can in this world.
How common is an Autism diagnosis?
Prior to 1980 finding autism was rare at 2-5 per 10,000 people. It is now 1 in every 54 boys and 1 per 68 children (CDC, 2014), which is an increase of over 30% from the 2008 CDC report. The rise began after 1984. Evidence suggests there is a strong implication to an environmental component.
What is the Cause of Autism in Children?
Despite the years of research done on autism, no one knows the exact cause of autism in children but it is believed to be multi-faceted. While the symptoms of autism are clear, the causes are not. In fact, most of the proposed causes of autism are considered to be controversial in the medical world. Many have presumed that the cause of autism is only genetic, the results of various surveys and studies show a genetic predisposition and it is accepted that this is not the only explanation.
For instance, there are a number of studies linking autism to vaccines, while others claim that autism is caused by a problem in a person’s immune system. Then there are groups who say that autism can be caused by food and medical substances, the ones also responsible for causing birth defects. The possibility that autism is not caused solely by genetics is a significant development, since medical experts are focused on the fact that autism is due to genetics, they have limited their choices of medications and treatments. Those children who suffer from autism take psychotropic drugs or medications that affect their central nervous system, altering brain functions and undergo therapy to correct a number of symptoms due to autism. But they do not cure autism; instead, they are more like maintenance procedures.
What we do know is that children with autism have abnormal detoxification systems and this increases their risk of damage from environmental insults. For example, after conception the fetus may be exposed to toxins and foreign substances. These toxins come from food eaten by the mother, air, medications and vaccinations she may have received. These substances pass through her blood, to the placenta and into the fetal tissue, because the baby has a weak detoxification capacity, the toxins can accumulate rather than be excreted. Once born, the baby continues to be introduced to toxins and chemicals. These could start with medications given during delivery or given prophylactically to the baby in the hospital, such as antibiotics and vaccines given before they leave the hospital.
Over the next year the baby comes in contact with new exposures, including breast milk, formula, baby food, other foods, chemicals in the air, soaps, clothes, vaccines, medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen and often antibiotics. Most children handle the exposures without obvious ill effects, but if a child has an abnormal immunological or toxicological system because of genetic factors, risk of injury will be much higher. As the environmental toxins accumulate the struggling immune system can no longer deal with them appropriately and damage occurs. There is not one event that causes a child to be diagnosed with autism, not every child with autism acts or looks the same, nor is every child treated the same. The fact that each child is so very unique is part of the science and art of caring for them, taking the right steps at a pace that works for that child. I always tell parents this is a marathon not a race and consistency will get them to the goal line!
How is Autism Treatable?
According to Dr. Bernard Rimland and ARI, “autism is treatable”. The standing belief today is that autism cannot be helped, it is just something a family has to accept. However, I think otherwise based on my 8+ years practice helping children with autism. Many doctors including chiropractors use a biomedical or functional medicine approach. The biomedical belief is that more than a genetic illness, autism is a biomedical problem affecting the neurological, toxicological, gastrointestinal and immune systems. This approach works at addressing the biochemical irregularities in one’s body using vitamin supplements, diet changes, proper lab testing, nutrition and in my practice chiropractic care. When the irregularities are fixed, children can “recover” from autism according to Dr. Rimland.
What can YOU do for these children?
- In your 1st visit spend the necessary time to learn about each individual child and explain to the parents what is happening with their child and together a care plan evolves.
- Examine the whole child. This includes asking developmental questions, evaluating their sleep, appetite, bowel habits, behaviors and things they are struggling with from day-to-day. If you only address the symptoms, the underlying issue may go unresolved and the child remains sick.
Plan of Care:
- Chiropractic care with Craniosacral Therapy (CST) has worked wonders in my practice. I have seen these together help with cognition, immune system, chronic infections, head banging, attention, speech, sleep, memory, anxiety, bowel movements, sensory issues, behavior and mood.
- ALL children with autism have gut issues so starting with urine, stool and blood testing is essential to direct care, course of treatment and parental expectations. Send them home with the urine and stool kits on the 1st visit and order blood work.
- Refer out to other specialist as needed. I usually refer out for speech, occupational and physical therapies and truly see the value of these therapies in conjunction with what I am doing.
- Set clear expectation for the parents, type out the treatment plan so they can share this with others involved in the care.
- Type out all diet and supplement directions, the more you educate the greater success they will have in your care.
- Multi-vitamin and mineral: Every child needs a multi-vitamin, especially the children with autism. I formulated a fantastic bioactive blend called OptiPedi for children 2+ that you can read more about at dramberbrooks.com. Doctors may order direct from Progressive Labs at 800-527-9512 and patients can order online at www.healthykidsnutrients.com
- Fish oil: My favorite is Speak Nutrients. It is by far the most amazing fish oil I have ever used. They will send you free samples, find more at speechnutrients.com
- Digestive support: I like to start them on digestive enzymes because many are struggling with picky eating, constipation/ diarrhea and pain behaviors. I love Enzymedica enzymes, read more at enzymedica.com
Want to learn more about how to help?
We all need to keep on pace with the changes in treatment for children. I love to do education and have taken on doing webinars myself to be able to share all the details a CE course will not allow me share with you. These are a fantastic way to get my expertise and step-by-step directions on the given topic being discussed to help you grow your pediatric practice. I do monthly webinars for parents and doctors. You can read about the upcoming webinars at www.dramberbrooks.com under “education”. In addition I also do 3-5 min educational YouTube videos directed at parents weekly, you can share these with your patients to help with education.
You can also order a copy of my book which details out the start of developmental delays and can help you in your assessments as well as parents with understanding our philosophies as chiropractors. You can order at www.mychildwellness.com. I also do bulk discounts if you wanted to make these available to all your new patients, which is what I do and it helps give them advice they can read and a proactive way to help with treatment.
Wishing you the best in health & healing,
Dr. Amber Brooks, DC, CACCP has dedicated her career to changing the health of children around the world by providing individualized and comprehensive approaches to pediatric wellness. Her passion and enthusiasm for helping children has led to a fulfilling and successful career as a business owner, author, national speaker, advocate, mentor and the development of a children’s nutritional line.