Functional Medicine: A Perfect Approach for Children with Autism

By Dr. Amy Davis, MD

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has risen dramatically over the last 25 years and the cause remains unclear. It appears there are genetic or inherited factors paired with environmental triggers that create Autism. Each child is unique and their treatment should reflect this. In my experience I have found multiple underlying medical concerns that must be addressed if a child has the potential to recover. Early intervention improves the outcome significantly. Prescription medications while helpful ignore underlying treatable issues which can make all the difference in outcome. 

Functional medicine is a perfect match for working with ASD by treating the underlying factors that are interfering with the healing process. Typical core issues include: 

  • • Poor digestion and processing of foods
  • • Unbalanced gut flora
  • • Leaky Gut
  • • Nutrient deficiencies
  • • Food Sensitivities
  • • Environmental Allergies 
  • • Immune Dysregulation and Inflammation
  • • Persistent pathogens – virus, bacterial, fungal
  • • Impaired ability to detoxify leading to toxic burden
  • • Oxidative Stress 
  • • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • • Nervous system that is stuck in “fight or flight” creating anxiety, impulsivity and sensory overload. 

Because of the underlying core issues children with ASD may also have eczema, asthma, diarrhea, bloating, abnormal stools, constipation, dark circles under eyes, developmental delays, processing problems, low tone, poor coordination, poor growth, sleep problems, fatigue, hyperactivity, rapid heart rate, heat intolerance, frequent infections, behavioral problems and more. 

Healing begins when you address what creates symptoms. In the case of Autism, healing begins in the gut. 

Remove offending foods. Consider a food elimination diet to identify the culprits like gluten, casein, processed foods and additives. Food is fuel! Children need lots of rich nutrients to grow and develop optimally. 

Replace digestive enzymes and bile acids to support digestion and absorption.

Reinoculate with beneficial bacteria using pre and probiotics, fermented foods and soluble fiber. 

Repair the lining of the gut by supplying key nutrients like glutamine, zinc, fish oil and antioxidants. 

Rebalance lifestyle choices — sleep, exercise and stress. 

Using Functional Medicine methods I can help you navigate the complex issues associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders to restore balance and healing. I work side by side with Dr. Tracie Fleshman (Chiropractic ) and Stacy Gellman (Craniosacral & Health Coach) to provide a full spectrum of support for children with Autism. 

Wishing You the Best of Health!

Dr. Amy Davis M.D. 
Crossing Back to Health 
11477 Olde Cabin Rd. Suite 100 
Creve Coeur, MO 63141
636 778-9158
Visit us at: www.crossingbacktohealth.com
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