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What is Autism and What are its Causes?

By: Lee Berlemann

Autism is a term that refers to a collection of neurologically based developmental disorders in which individuals have impairments in social interaction and communication skills, along with a tendency to have repetitive behaviors or interests.

The severity of autism varies greatly, from individuals with little speech and poor daily living skills, to others who function well in most settings. Approximately 70 to 75 percent of individuals with autism are believed to have mental retardation. Some adults with autism live independently.

A variety of factors could be associated with some forms of autism, including infectious, metabolic, genetic, neurological and environmental factors. There has been a growing concern among parents that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can cause autism and a study published in the Journal of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons examined extensive data on vaccines in children. The astonishing conclusion: Children who receive just three vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative thimerosal are 27- times more likely to develop autism, compared to children who get vaccinations containing no thimerosal. This was no surprise to the many researchers who have recognized that mercury- exposure to children through vaccines dramatically increased over the past 15 years, while the rate of autism jumped from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150 over the same period.

What are the symptoms of Autism and how is it diagnosed?

Autism is typically diagnosed during the toddler or preschool years, although some children are diagnosed later. Language delay or lack of appropriate social development may cause parents or teachers to seek an evaluation. Some children may have a period of normal development before the onset of symptoms and may even lose some earlier acquired skills, such as early words or social smiling.

Currently, there is no blood test or other medical test available to diagnose autism. Correct diagnosis depends on extensive and accurate developmental history, as well as observations of the child's social, communicative and play behaviors.

In autistic children, the inability of brain cells to communicate properly manifests physically in a parallel way. Autistic children often have difficulty with verbal communication, and in their inability to participate well (if at all) in a conversation.

Gestures and facial expressions, known as non-verbal communication, are also difficult. They have trouble relating socially to people and their surroundings, and often prefer playing alone because they don't know how to make friends. Their playtime may be very systematic and orderly, and not very imaginative.

A compromised immune system is common for these children, including other autoimmune diseases. Autistic children are often more susceptible to infections, viruses in the colon, colds, ear infections, allergies and asthma.

Is it true that nutrition can make a difference in my child's autistic behavior?

Good nutrition is particularly important for children and especially important for children with any type of health challenge. Your child's body was not designed to be ill, and that's good news. This means you need to give your child the fuels he or she needs to help heal and correct their bodies.

In an article written by Dr. Steve Nugent, NMD, Phd and Jane Ramberg, MS called "Reassessing the Need for Dietary Supplements for America's Children", the following is stated: "Studies indicate that poor nutrition in childhood can have irreversible efffects, ranging from mild to serious, affecting brain development, skeletal structure, and height. If malnutrition occurs during the critical period of high brain growth velocity (between the last trimester of pregnancy and age 2), deleterious (harmful) effects on brain development are permanent."

There should be no question that what your child eats will affect his or her health. The only question is what can I learn about my child's nutrition and what can I do to improve it?

What Nutrients Does my Autistic Child Need?

The best way for your child to obtain good nutrition is by consuming a healthy well balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. It's also important to get Phytonutrients/Antioxidents (nutrients from plants, vine-ripe fruits, & vegetables);  Phytohormones which support proper organ health; and Glyconutrients, the newest class of necessary nutritrients.  Glyconutrients are required for complete cellular communication and probably the most important nutrient for a child with any type of chronic health challenge.

Why are some nutrients considered necessary for proper body and immune system functioning and others are not considered necessary?

In a nutshell, if you understand how a basic computer works, you know that there is certain software, called the operating system, that is required to make the computer run. Then there are other software, like games and word document programs, that use the operating system in order to function. The same applies to your child's body. There are necessary nutrients (as described above) that are essential to make the human body function and then there are supplemental nutrients (like herbs) that are useful when all of the essential nutrients are present.

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, the most reassuring thing about necessary nutrients is that they are non-toxic. Your child's body will accept nutrition naturally without the toxic and sometimes life threatening side affects of pharmaceutical drugs. What would your rather have your child try first to improve his or her health challenge?

About the Author:  Lee Berlemann

Lee Berlemann's FREE ebook titled, "What Every Parent Must Know About Autism and Nutrition" offers hope for you and your family's health challenges. Obtain your FREE copy at: Lee Berlemann at: Hope For Autism

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If you are going through a tough time, e-mail counseling can be one resource to help you cope. Online counseling is available on this site via e-mail with Patricia Roles who is a registered social worker with over 30 years counseling experience. This is an alternate way to get professional help and support over the internet without leaving your own home. It is less expensive than face-to-face counseling.

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