Rapamycin for Autism

Autism and Tuberous Sclerosis , How is it linked to Rapamycin

There is some fairly new drama surrounding a drug and its potential for causing autism. Like most things, it is all hype, and you may or may not have heard about rapamycin anyway. If your child has a dual diagnosis of autism and tuberous sclerosis, then you do know why rapamycin is. It is the drug that helps shrink the tuberous growths throughout your child’s body.

The argument comes from a government study that examined the effects of this drug on lab rats. That’s right, lab rats. They were researching what the drug did for tumors, and instead concluded that it made the animals more social. It, like so many other drugs, alters the brain chemistry and some of its physiology such that the rats seemed more attractive and approachable to other rats. The key word here is seemed, since you cannot actually ask other rats what they think of their cage mates when the
cage mates were on this drug.

As with all drug research and development, lab rats are a long way from human trials, and it takes a lot of proof and study to be sure that the drug has no negative side effects on humans before a human drug trial can begin. The hope of the researchers is that rapamycin will make people with autism less socially awkward and facilitate better social interaction with their non-autistic peers, but it is years off from being tested in this fashion.

Meanwhile, parents and teachers of children with autism have to be the facilitators of social interaction for these children. It requires a lot more effort because everyone has to model social behavior and help the children with autism learn how to interact with others. There is no short cut here, and it is hard work, but many children with mild to moderate autism learn how to act, interact and react to what others say and do in correct ways, something which they would still have to do if they were taking
rapamycin.

The conclusion here is that there is no quick fix and no cure just yet. There is still the overwhelming task of teaching kids and adults how to interact even if there was a quick fix, and parents of children with autism would have to make the decision to place their children on this drug for life. If your child already takes it for tuberous sclerosis, then the decision is a simple one because your child really needs it. If not, then it becomes a choice between forcing your child to change and become social, or remain in his or her own quiet, little world.

The effects on children with moderate to severe autism are even more of an unknown, since most of these children do not want to be touched nor do they seek out affection. Given that there are so many medical hurdles to cross before anyone can find out, you do better by your child teaching him or her how to respond to others. That is better than any pill you can make him or her take.

Is there a link between pitocin induction and autism

Probiotic for autistic children

Different Diets, Same Autism (Probiotics and Autism)

Probiotic autism
There have been many rumors circulating that a change in diet can help a child with autism cope with his or her surroundings. There are some grains of truth to this, but it should be kept in mind that even regular people can have a change in behavior and mood when they change their diets. The latest rumor running in autism circles is about the effect of probiotics. Here is the cold, hard truth. Children with autism often have poor diets, not because their parents don’t do everything they can to get them to eat healthy, but because autistic kids get stuck on certain foods and won’t eat anything else. There is also the problem of food textures and spices, which some kids with autism are extremely sensitive to, and therefore they simply won’t even try a lot of foods that may be healthier or could vary their diets more.

What this adds up to is a digestive system that does not run as smoothly as intended. Kids with autism often have constipation because they refuse to eat vegetables or fruits. They are hard-wired to consume carbs, although it is not certain why. Since you definitely do not want to give your kids laxatives all the time, some parents are wondering about the effects of probiotics.

What are Probiotics

Probiotics is a fancy word that describes the healthy bacteria in the human intestines. When it is properly balanced, you feel great and your bowel movements are regular and normal in consistency. It is completely natural to take probiotic supplements to aid digestion, and it can help your child with autism regulate his or her little system.

The thing is, it is not a fancy diet to follow nor is it a change in lifestyle. In fact, if your child does not have a lactose intolerance and is not sensitive to dairy products, he or she can get all the probiotics he or she needs simply by consuming one to two servings of yogurt daily. You do not have to overextend yourself financially buying probiotic supplements to give your child.

Can probiotics help autism

The drawback to this line of thinking is that probiotics can cure autism or that it dramatically improves the challenging behaviors of autism. It cannot be stressed enough that probiotics are not a cure-all, nor are they going to completely eliminate problematic behaviors. Will your child feel better and because he or she feels better behave better? Absolutely, but anyone eating yogurt or taking a daily probiotic supplement will. Correlation is not causation, and vice versa.

Plain and simple, when your child is not struggling to create a BM and then empty his or her system of that BM, he or she will be more comfortable, content, and less challenging. There is nothing wrong with trying this approach, especially if you notice your child has infrequent BM’s or really hard/hard to pass stools. What will ease their gut will ease some of their distress and in turn ease some behavior, but not all.

Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation for autism spectrum disorders (asd)

Scalp Acupuncture And Autism

It has been proven that scalp massage effects the dispersement of endorphins in the brain.  Women and men alike receive pleasurable stimulations when the scalp is rubbed rotationally from the temples to the base of the neck.  People who sit in a salon or barber chair for a shampoo and cut are immediately relaxed.

While this is a very effective means at calming some children with autism, it doesn’t work for all of them.  Taking it a step farther, some parents actually use scalp acupuncture for the treatment of autism.  It’s much more common in the Asian communities where acupuncture is thought to cure just about anything.

Yet, in this instance, acupuncture for parts of the scalp over areas of the brain of an autistic child have clearly shown some brain activity and muscular control not seen before.  More test studies need to be conducted because the only study performed should never be considered the final word on this form of treatment.   It’s worth the skepticism it receives because the children in the test study showed improvement both before  and after the test, which makes no sense at all.  It was also combined with a speech and language course that was a little more intensive.  Correlation is not causation and causation definitely does not equal a correlation.

Other children involved in this type of study globally are showing a potential increase in many areas thought to be “abandoned” but the autistic child.  Without the proper study parameters in place, it’s not known if the scalp acupuncture is truly effective or if the environment is causing the children to have spikes in muscle movement and vocal stimulation.  These children always appear as though they want to talk, but we’ve never been sure it was possible for those who are nonverbal.

Children are responding and have responded to this treatment, so parents who are interested in trying something different may be encouraged to try scalp acupuncture for their children.

At any rate, it certainly beats the more strange and unusual forms of treatment for children with autism.  It wasn’t too long ago that some doctors thought a good healthy dose of electricity would overhaul the children’s brains and “reboot” them such that they would be “normal” children again.  Now it’s understood that electroshock therapy for anyone just doesn’t work the way they thought it did, and for most patients it doesn’t work at all or makes things worse.

Tongue acupuncture is another treatment endorsed by the acupuncturists for the treatment of communication problems in children with autism.  Along with these two types of acupuncture, laser acupuncture has now been added as well.  Autistic children who are extremely sensitive to hot and cold should probably avoid this treatment because of the laser’s involvement.

Tongue Acupuncture And Autism

Tongue Acupuncture And Autism

Parents who have children with autism will go to strange lengths sometimes to help their children out of behavioral problems.  Acupuncture is definitely one  of them, because most autistic kids aren’t just going to sit still and allow a stranger to insert needles into their body.  Given that it is illegal to hold someone down for treatment of any kind, it’s quite a trick if parents and an acupuncturist can even make this kind of treatment work.

Professor Virginia Wong, from Hong Kong, has theorized that the practice of acupuncture on the tongue of an autistic child stimulates neural pathways in the brain that are currently not in use because of the disorder.  The Chinese have already taken to using it because they believe that their 5,000 year old medicines and techniques can’t be wrong.  Asian children with autism are growing in  number, and Asian culture views it as a physical ailment blocked by something in either the Qi or the yin/yang.

It doesn’t exactly give any sort of boost to modern medicine, but it isn’t being ignored entirely either.  The practice of tongue acupuncture is now running through Russia and Europe, and is most likely on its way to the U.S.  Since the FDA long ago approved acupuncture for real and valid treatments of neurological issues, it’s safe to assume that they probably won’t have a problem with this either.

The practice of acupuncture is deeply rooted in the Chinese spiritual beliefs and beliefs about the body itself.  The idea is to treat the problem part with an equal animal organ or intervene by blocking bad energy and helping the good energy replace it.  To improve communication, argues Professor Wong and the Chinese population as a whole, speech and communication problems associated with autism should be blocked at the source and stimulated to encourage good energy to correct the problem.

For a lot  of Caucasian Americans, this seems too good to be true or too “new age-y” for them to consider.  A lot of Canadians certainly aren’t opposed to trying it, and their government has already approved of tougue acupuncture for autism.  Whether or not it’s actually effective still remains to be seen because no study groups have come together to go through this type of therapy with their children and have the results documented.  For the time being, it’s more than supposition that it has any effect at all.

Other forms of acupuncture for the treatment of autism are also in use in Asian countries.  Following the same concepts behind the use of tongue acupuncture, and often used simultaneously, scalp acupuncture and laser acupuncture attempt to jostle the brain through neurological pathways.  Without understanding any of the real causes behind autism, trying to treat it through neural blocking and stimulation doesn’t seem like it would do much at all.  It is effective for treating chronic pain, but treating a disorder that no one knows for certain is neurological in origin just seems like parents are turning their children into human guinea pigs while trying to find something that works.

More on autism therapies,
1). Nutritional Therapies For Autism
2). Stem Cell Therapy For Autism
3). Craniosacral Therapy
4). FAQ on Hippotherapy

Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplementation And Autism

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in meats and eggs but are at their highest concentration in fish.  They are vital to healthy brain functions and activity, and when there isn’t enough of it, the brain undergoes significant cognitive delays and impairments.  Twenty years ago, doctors began prescribing fish oil capsules and diets heavy in fish for elderly patients with signs of memory loss, dementia and Alzheimers.  Now, the studies on omega 3 fatty acids are being applied to autism and their potential effects at stopping aberrant behaviors( such as aggression.)

Studies from Austria, the United States, and all over the world have taken double blind groups of children with autism, ages three to twelve and everywhere in between, and put them through six to eight week studies.  Half the group was given a placebo and the other half was given fish capsules.  Behaviors were recorded and tracked for the study period to ascertain whether or not omega 3 fatty acid supplementation would actually be an effective treatment for the more problematic behaviors of autism.  (See: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00786799, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16920077)

Although the studies reflect some results, the final observation of the researchers involved stated that a more longitudinal study with many, many more test subjects were needed in order to have a more accurate conclusion of the effects of omega 3 fatty acids on the brains and behaviors of children with autism.  With any and all articles regarding this one supplement, the conclusion is the same.  However, since additional omega 3 in anyone’s diet isn’t a bad thing, it definitely can’t hurt children to consume an extra 540 to 2,320 mg per day.  If nothing else, it works to stimulate healthy brain cell growth and improve cognitive processes.  (See: http://autism.healingthresholds.com/therapy/essential-fatty-acids-efa?page=1)

The human body is able to manufacture many of the nutrients it needs naturally, but fatty acids aren’t part of that group.  Humans need to get the right dose of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids from the foods we consume.  However, the average American consumes significantly more omega 6 fatty acids than is absolutely necessary, and not enough of the omega 3 fatty acids.  In children with autism, it’s even more critical that their diets be reasonably balanced, but because many of them can’t tolerate foods with certain textures or orders and won’t eat them, the nutrients they so desperately need can’t enter their bodies and brains.

Pediatricians highly recommend fish oil capsules if children will swallow them.  Older children might, but younger children with autism either can’t or won’t because they tend to smell.  Vitamin and health supplement manufacturers have found ways to make the fish oil capsules less smelly, and can even make them taste like a gummy or chewy candy.  Parents who are desperate to get their children to try omega 3 therapy can check with local pharmacies to see if they can buy the chewable, non-odorous and sweet fish oil capsules.  They might have to be a special order item, but they are quick to ship and the pharmacies are pretty good at calling the parents when the shipment comes in.  Otherwise parents can order them online themselves from retailers like Amazon.com. Why should you love Amazon.com If you have a relative with Autism?

At Amazon.com, parents can find squeeze packets and gummies for omega 3 that have kids in mind.  One company in particular, Coromega, even makes chocolate orange flavor.  None of these have any hint of fish smell, and are pleasantly sweet and appealing to kids.  For parents who also want to avoid gluten, dairy, yeast, starch and artificial flavors and colors, no other company has this one beat.

As for future studies of omega 3 on the brains of children with autism, there may be a few more in the works in the next ten years.  California has often lead the way in fringe science, proving many ideas as valid and not junk science.  A couple of studies are expected to take place in Los Angeles, but parents and their autistic children will have to go through a rigorous screening process before being allowed into the study.  Since Los Angeles is far away from most of the United States, it’s unlikely that parents will travel that far to participate, leaving the study groups to be compiled mostly of  west coast residents.

Other studies are splitting off to test DHA and omega 3, in the form of EPA, together to see if the combination of two necessary brain chemicals can make twice the impact.  In the last ten years, baby formula companies have added DHA to all of their cans of formula per the FDA’s approval once it was shown how vitally important DHA was to eye, bone and brain development.  Mothers who choose not to breastfeed were unaware of how little nutrition their babies were getting in the standard can of formula prior to the addition of DHA.  Now the FDA has remedied that, giving the formula babies as much of a fighting chance at health as babies who are breastfed.  Assuming that DHA and omega 3 fatty acid supplementation separately impacts autistic brains, how much more of an impact would both supplements have?  This is the newest question and line of research that scientists hope to pursue.

For parents who have younger children with autism but are looking for the combined DHA and omega 3/ EPA treatments now, vitamin and health supplement companies are way ahead of the curve.  Parents can buy the combined supplements in pill or gummy form for their children now and run their own in house experiment.  They just have to have expectations  that fall within the line of reason; it’s not a cure, it’s a supplement to help their children.

Is there a cure for autism spectrum disorders?

Oxytocin For The Treatment of Autism

Hormones And Behavior: Possible Implications of Oxytocin For The Treatment of Autism

Ongoing research every day is looking for new pathways to help children and adults with autism.  Although some of the rumors regarding the research are either rumors or just junk science, others hold some potential truth.  The concept behind hormonal treatments and causes for and of autism have suggested that the slight chemical imbalances that already exist in the autistic brain could benefit from more natural therapeutic approaches, or the pharmacological equivalent thereof.

More recently, the idea that oxytocin, a natural biochemical in the human body responsible for many functions, could help children with autism emotionally, and possibly, even psychologically.  To better understand the implications, people need to first understand what oxytocin is, what it does, and how it can affect most human brains.

Oxytocin is a peptide, which isn’t the same as a hormone per se.  Those who know a little something about it think that it is a hormone simply because it’s secreted from the posterior lobe of that master gland, the pituitary.  Since the pituitary gland controls all of the body’s other endocrine and exocrine glands, the glands that produce hormones in the body, it is often argued that the chemicals the pituitary manufactures are hormones as well.

The primary purpose of oxytocin is to bring people physically closer.  The minute a body encounters touch from another it continues to seek out touch and a desire to touch another.  This plays out rather well in physical intimacy between partners, but it also is meant as a means for mother  and child to bond, and eventually fathers to connect to their progeny.   With children who have autism, and have no desire to be touched at all, there appears to be a malfunction in either the production of oxytocin or the reception of positive emotions connected to physical bonding.

The secondary purpose of oxytocin aids women during childbirth.  It is responsible for the contractions women feel while simultaneously activating pain reducing hormones in the body that help women forget labor.  Once the baby is out, oxytocin continues to ride high so that the baby and mother can bond and breastfeeding is as natural as it gets.   If the mother has induced labor pharmacologically, a manmade peptide called pitocin is introduced intravenously.  It does everything oxytocin does, except that the doses are more controllable because they are introduced to the body from the outside.

Since there seems to be a normal amount of this peptide at birth because autistic children do not become distant until after the onset of autism at age two, controversial new data suggests that there is somehow a correlation between the physical dejection trait in some children with autism and a decrease or drop off of oxytocin.  There’s also a camp of thinkers that believes it has more to due with the oxytocin receptors rather than the amount of oxytocin being produced.

In any case, it is scientifically proven that human touch is necessary for a child’s overall well being.  Touch deprivation not only decreases an infant’s survival rate, as seen in many orphanages around the world, but also decreases the amount of oxytocin their own bodies produce.  Once a child has little oxytocin of their own, they begin to cry and become physically attuned to their own emotional pain.  Months after the initial deprivation has started, they die.  Although it isn’t ethical for such studies to be conducted, scientists have been able to gather data based on infants left to cry in cribs all day long in places where there aren’t enough nurses to care for them.

That critical piece of information makes it even more necessary to find a connection between the child with autism who does not want to be hugged or held and helping them find comfortable ground on which to thrive.  It also helps parents of autistic children feel better about the fact that, as much as they want to hold their children, it isn’t them that is causing the children’s issues with growth and emotional contentedness.  The research now is looking at introducing either biochemically reproduced “twin peptides”,  chemicals that exactly replicate the patient’s own oxytocin, or the use of pitocin, to get an autistic child to want to be close to his or her parents.

The idea is that the child’s own mass produced and exactly replicated oxytocin reintroduced to the body through a series of shots would encourage him or her to hug and be hugged and allow for kisses as signs of affection.  Children who give and receive affection thrive far better, and this would give children with autism the opportunity to feel more happy, content, and less anxious or depressed, which can be common for them.  It helps parents too, because they are able to give and receive affection to their autistic children, thus reducing the negative feelings they may encounter when dealing with their children’s more difficult and challenging behaviors.    Being able to soothe each other through this one peptide helps everyone’s health, not just the autistic child.

The one down side to the oxytocin therapy is that it would have to be lifelong, as oxytocin and/or pitocin fades in the bloodstream.  Pitocin would stick around a little longer because the body needs more time to break it down, but it doesn’t work quite as well as the child’s own oxytocin.  Because the jury is still out on what this study actually means, it may be a couple of decades before scientists can safely say that it’s a therapy that does work and will work for every child diagnosed with autism, and then additional time before the FDA would approve it in the U.S.

Acupuncture for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Perhaps surprisingly, many studies have been done worldwide hoping to determine the efficacy of acupuncture to treat symptoms of autism.  Autism is a developmental disorder that primarily affects a child’s ability to form social bonds and communicate.  Children and adults with autism can have an inability to make friends with others or a dislike of social interaction, and an inability to read facial expressions and cues.  Unlike other children, who develop social knowledge naturally as they grow older and interact with groups, children with autism must be explicitly taught how to behave in many group situations.  Some children with autism also can have Intellectual Disability that holds them back from achieving in school.  This is not true for all children, however, and children that are considered to have “Asperger’s Syndrome” are autistic, but are very high functioning intellectually.

The symptoms of autism are pervasive and can make life difficult for both the person with autism and his or her friends and family.  There are many proposed lifestyle changes or additions for children and adults with autism and families are quick to jump on board, hoping for any improvements.  Many children and adults with autism undergo Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy to improve communication and self-sufficiency skills.  Some receive medications to help decrease repetitive behaviors or behaviors of self-harm.  Still others look for alternative interventions that can ease the challenges that come with autism.

This is where acupuncture comes in.  Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that purports to balance the life-force, or “chi,” in the body by the placement of thin needles in key pressure points along the head and body.  Thought researchers aren’t entirely sure how the procedure works, acupuncture is an effective treatment for the symptoms of many ailments.  In fact, acupuncture can often be paid for by health insurance, if recommended by your doctor.

Since at least the early 2000’s, researchers have been interested to discover if acupuncture can be an effective treatment for people with autism.  There have been a number of studies done to test the behavior and autistic symptoms of people with autism before and after acupuncture treatment.  While some of these studies found statistically significant benefit with the introduction of acupuncture, a meta-analysis of many of these studies done in 2011 concluded that the evidence is still murky and needs further study.  Additionally, no randomized controlled trials have been carried out on adults with autism, so only children have been studied so far.

Though science is still inconclusive on whether acupuncture helps ease symptoms of autism, there are no reported downsides to trying the procedure.  If you or someone you love has autism and are considering new routes to treat symptoms, acupuncture is a good choice.  While many studies claim that children who received acupuncture didn’t fare any better than their counterparts who didn’t partake, there were no negative side effects to the treatment.  Furthermore, some children did experience relief from certain symptoms and were reported to make strides forward in behavior and social gains.  It might not work for everyone, but it’s possible it works for some people.

All in all, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating autism.  Many studies have been done on children with autism and the results are still inconclusive.  However, acupuncture is a healthy and effective treatment for the symptoms of many common ailments and diseases and so may help symptoms of autism for some, if not many, people.  If you are interested in pursuing acupuncture as a treatment for yourself or your child, consult your physician and do not suspend other treatment plans in favor of acupuncture without doctor approval.

Suggested References:

http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00346736

http://www.livestrong.com/article/515947-acupuncture-and-children-with-autism/

http://www.healthcmi.com/acupuncturist-news-online/317-acupuncturechildrenautism2340983

Autism Treatment

There is no treatment of autism per se. There is only treatment of some of the more troubling behaviors that accompany the disorder. There is also no guarantee that these treatments will work since the autistic brain is already and altered brain, in chemistry and neurology. Still, some medications have proven effective in helping a child or young adult with autism cope better.

Verbal or nonverbal seems to make no difference. Antidepressants have, for the most part, been a failure, although there are one or two medications in this drug classification that have shown some signs in the display of frustration. Where outbursts were more common before, Risperdal and one other antidepressant have shown to have a calming effect, rather than an antidepressant effect. Again, it has to be kept in mind that an autistic brain is different from an average child’s brain and not to be messed with lightly.

For behaviors that almost appear ADHD in nature, Adderall and Ritalin have been prescribed off-label to help with impulse control and slowing the child down long enough for him or her to focus on verbal expression rather than attack, aggress, hit, punch, bite, or kick. For some kids, it works too well and they become hyper focused on unimportant things, like the proximity of desks and tables to each other. They will obsess to the point that it seems like they have gone the opposite direction to what the medication was expected to do for them. Switching gears to a medication that isn’t legalized speed for the average brain is often the new approach when this occurs.

As for the child with autism that continually obsesses about specific topics or tasks to the point nothing is ever completed, meds often reserved for adults with OCD might be prescribed in lighter amounts. Because this is a very serious class of medication, the problem has to be much, much worse in order for a pediatrician to prescribe such a medication.

For the parent that would prefer to avert using medications to control his or her child, there are ways to cope. There are behavior modification plans you can develop and seek out assistance with to alter the troubling issues everyone is facing in the care and education of your child. This is preferable to any form of medication out there, as it is still out for debate on how drugs will affect the autistic brain long term. Not making your child a guinea pig for the drug companies is a perfectly acceptable response for a parent who wants to exhaust all other efforts first before offering their child a pill.

The problem with the “no medication” approach to treating the symptoms of autism is that you may have well meaning individuals report you for neglect to Child Protective Services, or CPS. Teachers are likely to do this if the child has caused them some harm and they don’t want to deal with the interruption during their day. Ex-spouses who are not capable of handling situations effectively may also try to put an autistic child on pills. As a parent you have the right to say that you will raise a drug free child and you must advocate strongly for it and your child. It’s a tough battle, but ultimately the choice is yours, and you need to do what you think is best for him or her.

Disclaimer: We are neither medical professional nor researchers. We just express our opinion. Please make sure to consult an appropriate licensed doctor or professional before using any medication.

Assistance For Children With Autism