Saturday, February 2, 2008

Autism Spectrum Disorder and the allergic child

As many of you know, my son Joe was diagnosed last year as being on the autism spectrum. Joe is considerd very high functioning, and our main focus in therapy continues to be bringing out the language which he already has, but sometimes chooses not to use. We also have issues with behavior, like eloping and being a bit less focused in a classroom enviornment than other kids his age. But as far as intelligence goes, we are blessed that he is able to keep up with ( and in some areas even surpass) his peers.

I have been researching the co-exsistance of enviornmental and food allergies in children who are on the spectrum. It's very interesting, and to me, holds a bit more weight scientifically than the whole immunization hoopla. Granted, I also believe that in the past thermisol did pose a hazadardous toxicity and possible negative neurological effect on kids who where exposed in larger quantities. But the drug companies have been removing thermisol from antigens for several years, now. The autism "epidemic" continues to grow. The other possibility that might still involve immunizations as a possible cause for spectrum disorders also involves allergy and the introduction to the immune system of a substance that for most would not cause any reaction. But for some might cause a neurological type of reaction.

Allergy in autistc kids seems to be quite common. Many have food allergies to wheat, dairy and nuts. Joe is allergic to peanuts, and so we also keep a nut-free house ( food-wise, not individuals living here) :) Then there is the ever increasing in popularity gluten free diet that many pediatricians advocate in helping treat behaviors in ASD (Austistic Spectrum Disorders). Does it help? I dont know. While I would love to try a gluten free diet on Joey....I am a wimp! When I was working as a pediatric nurse (long before I had kids of my own), I would be the first to instruct the parents to be parents....but here I am, unable to take food he loves away from him. The truth is that he is a picky eater, and while that isn't uncommon in little ones, kids with ASD sometimes have sensitivities to food texture, taste, and smell. It's not always a put-on. They are just reacting to something in the food they don't like. So there are times I feel fortunate that he eats the few things he does!

The interesting thing I have been reading, is that the CNS and immune system form about the same time in-utero. Both function similarly, recognition then reaction. Whether it's a specific memory that you have from your 5th birthday party, or the taste of a food that gives you is all conneted. Somehow, it makes me wonder if symptoms of ASD are heightened when the child is in an allergic state. Say for instance, a simple cold or nasal these conditions make behaviors worse? If we treat allergies with something, like Zyrtec or Claritin on a daily basis, would the behaviors improve? The same can be asked about a child with ADD or ADHD. Both of those neurological conditions may also improve when allergies are kept at bay.

Interesting idea, isn't it?

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