Monday, May 2, 2011
Naturopathic Medicine and Biomedical Therapies in Autism and ADHD
Naturopathic Medicine focuses on finding underlying causes or triggers for illness and optimizing overall health. It is a perfect fit for families looking for support for Autism Spectrum and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. Some Naturopathic Physicians use a Biomedical approach for supporting the two conditions. Biomedical therapies are defined as science-based therapies that look at optimizing the biology of the individual patient to improve the symptoms of Autism. This is done in three ways: assessing nutrient deficiencies, removing any interfering or triggering factors, and optimizing body systems (such as the digestive or immune system). These three areas are targeted based on each patient’s specific circumstances, symptoms and lab results.
Perhaps we have a child diagnosed with Autism, whose biggest challenges are with language skills and unpredictable outbursts. We also find out he has difficult digestion and is very limited in his diet. Since he’s eating limited foods, he’s probably quite nutritionally deficient. Many nutrient deficiencies (B vitamins, amino acids and essential fatty acids) impact brain functioning, cognition and learning.
We often try a special diet to eliminate reactive and inflammatory foods that are causing his pain and gassiness. Many kids will express tummy pain or discomfort with restlessness and unpredictable stereotypic or aggressive behaviours.
To help guide our treatment plan, we may choose to do specific testing to investigate various aspects of his digestion and nutritional status. The testing, along with his symptoms and goals will dictate our treatment course. This evolving plan often uses a combination of special diets, nutrient and supplement support, and sometimes pharmaceutical prescriptions.
Naturopathic and Biomedical therapies are not cookie-cutter, but rather they are specific to the family and to the child. This approach complements applied behavioural, speech and occupational therapies, as they help to reduce distractions and improve cognitive and learning functions.