Autism is often treated as a mental health disorder, but many parents wonder, “What is a bio-medical approach to autism?” This approach moves away from the traditional mindset that people with autism need to be on strong psychiatric drugs in order to control their behavior. Instead, the individual is treated for medical conditions that may be the cause of the autistic behavior and with natural or holistic therapies in order to achieve a better nutritional balance.
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Assessment of the Root Causes
Conventional treatments for autism focus on treating the symptoms. The bio-medical approach focuses on finding the root cause of the symptoms. Some physicians believe that an underlying problem with the immune, digestive or endocrine systems could cause autism symptoms. Finding and treating the condition could reduce or eliminate the child’s autism symptoms.
Medical Tests to Evaluate the Individual
The bio-medical approach to autism requires that a range of medical tests be performed on the child. The tests can be done one at a time in order to rule out or rule in certain conditions. For example, a tilt table test may be performed in order to check for gastroesophageal reflux disease. A blood sample might be collected in order to determine if the child has heavy metal poisoning or a nutritional deficiency. Urine testing may be performed in order to check the child’s metabolism. Testing for oxalates may also be performed. Oxalates are fungi found in certain medications used to treat common bacterial infections. Microbial testing from a stool sample, nasal swab or saliva sample may be conducted so that doctors can determine if the child has a buildup of yeast or bacteria in the digestive or nasopharyngeal tract.
Medical Treatments for the Individual
According to Indiana University, the treatment of underlying gastrointestinal abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, immune system dysfunctions or detoxification problems is a medical approach that might allow families to avoid the use of powerful psychiatric drugs for treating autism. For example, a child with a low vitamin D level could be given a supplement. A child with gastroesophageal reflux disease may benefit from the use of antacids or acid controllers. Keep in mind that children with autism may not communicate well, so their gastrointestinal problem might be difficult to detect without a physician’s evaluation.
Naturopathic Therapies for Autism
Many parents find some success with naturopathic therapies for autism. This part of the bio-medical approach involves a focused effort on special diets and nutritional supplements. For example, some parents find that eliminating foods with artificial food coloring lessens symptoms. Others have had success with eliminating foods that contain gluten, caesin or processed sugar in order to reduce their child’s symptoms. The addition of vitamins such as B12 or nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids have also helped with the autism symptoms of some children.
A bio-medical approach to autism might be something for families to consider before using strong prescription drugs that affect the chemistry of the brain. This treatment approach might also be an option for children with autism who do not tolerate prescription drugs or who have swallowing disorders that make it difficult for them to take medication. Understanding what is a bio-medical approach to autism gives parents and caregivers some options for providing their child with the best possible care and support.