The name for autism is developed by the Swiss psychiatrist Paul Eugen Bleuler (1857 - 1939). The name originates from the Greek "autos" meaning "self" and "ismus" referring to the person shutting him- or herself into his or her own world of thoughts without emotional contact to others. Bleuler used the expression to explain a significant feature in schizophrenia - a suffering that he, too, has named.
People suffering from autism can be found in all societies and social classes and the number is highly increasing. Today, an estimated 2 out of every 1000 children are said to be autistic, and 4 out of 5 of these are boys.
There is a large difference as to how adults with autism manage. Financially, it can vary from having no income at all and having to be provided for to being successful employers. According to Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, it costs 2 - 2.5 million dollars to treat an autistic child.
Up to the mid 1960s, autism was regarded as a psycho-social disease caused by the combination of a callous and insensitive mother ("the cold mother") or a psychogenic explanation - i.e. that autism originated from the mental life. The treatment methods, therefore, were based on these principles.
The cause of autism is still being debated. Some researchers believe that the cause can be found in the brain, which in some places has an abnormal structure. Others believe that the cause is to be found in the immune system, and point out the remarkable number of examples of autistics with allergic illnesses and chronic digestive system problems.
Everyone, however, agrees, that autism is a developmental suffering. Autistic children suffer from an inflammatory state in the brain which is either the cause of or a consequence of their condition affecting their cerebral function. Autism is defined according to the apparent symptoms - they are as follows:
1. Lack of the ability to control language or have no spoken language at all.
2. Avoiding social impulses:
- as children they will not play with other children,
- they grab your arm in order to get what they need,
- they resist to changing rutines,
- they can be very uncooperative,
- they have difficulties being still - e.g. staying at the table and finish eating.
3. A lacking ability to discover, process, and understand social signals from other people.
4. Sterotyped movements and behavioral patterns.
5. Sleeping difficulties.
6. Irritability, and often they are sad and upset.
7. Laughing and screaming - apparently for no reason.
8. Digestive problems - many suffer from chronic diarrhoea.
9. Problems with the temperature regulation of the body.
10. Having suffered many infections in early childhood.
Classis autism (infantile autism) and Asperger's syndrome are two definitions/diagnoses which are classified as autism. The other related definitions/diagnoses are classified as the autistic spectrum. These are for example Heller's syndrome in which signs of schizophrenia, anxiety, and disturbed thoughts are being shown, Rett syndrome with early mental retardation, lack of verbal language, and severe movement handicaps, plus Savant syndrome with retardation but also genious features in e.g. mathematics and arts. This rare variant was made known by the movie "Rainman".
Symptoms: Occur around the age of 1 where the child develops a serious mental personality disorder. Every 3rd child will be mentally retarded and retreat into its own world. Many children do not speak or show signs of emotion and they can react violently and destructively to changes.
Cause: Genetic factors in which the child feels particularly wulnerable to the suffering. Too much male sex hormone in the foetus and too many signalling substances in the brain tissue can also play a role. Many children show changes in the structure and function of the brain.
Frequency: Approx. 1 - 2 out of 1000 and 3 - 4 times as many boys as girls.
Symptoms: Are usually discovered at the age of 6. The child is normally gifted or is very intelligent. There are often problems with normal social connections such as having eye contact or making friends. The child does not understand the way of thinking or the feelings of others and cannot interpret their facial expression or gestures. They can talk stiffly and can come across rather old-fashioned or weird. They can have special gifts in certain areas, in relation to a particular thing, or in certain occupations.
Cause: Genetic causes can make the child predisposed to being affected. Exposure to testosterone in the foetal state can be a triggering factor.
Frequency: Around 4 children in every 1000 - of these 10 times as many boys as girls.
The causes for autism
The causes for autism has not been sufficiently elucidated.
Autism as a metabolic disorder
A new theory views autism as a metabolic disorder. According to this theory, autism is a result of the effect of certain peptides (protein fragments) on the neurotransmission (nervous regulation) in the CNS (central nervous system). These peptides either have the effect of morphia themselves or they break down the morphine peptides which can be found naturally in the central nervous system. In both cases, the consequence will be that the nervous regulation function of the CNS which is normally carried out by the original/natural morphine peptides such as norepinephrine and endorphine will be enhanced to such a degree that the normal processes collaps. The CNS systems will then be so disturbed that the conscious sensations, feelings, learning ability, and behaviour will all be affected. The many different symptoms which constitute autism will appear.
Where do these peptides come from?
Researchers think that the peptides originate from an incomplete breakdown of certain foodstuffs; especially gluten in wheat, barley, oat, and rye, and from casein in milk and other dairy products. Other foodstuffs can, however, also be involved.
How do the peptides work?
Even in a normal breakdown of the proteins in the intestinal system in a normal, healthy individual, the peptides will cross the barrier between the intestine and the blood and some of the them will reach the blood-brain barrier (a barrier which is in part a physical- and in part a biochemical enzyme system which prohibits penetration of foreign substances into the brain.
The peptides will then regulate the neurotransmitters in the most essential neurotransmission systems or produce replacement substances for the enzymes which normally breaks down the morphine peptides which normally occur in the CNS. In both cases, the morphine activity will be increased and the person will be affected as in a morphine intoxication.
The morphine activity will also be increased in relation to infections since the enzyme elastase is released either in the intestine, the liver, or the blood. Elastase can cleave peptides from normal foodstuffs into morphine peptides.
In normal situations, the peptide level in the intestine is small and the amounts reaching the brain are minimal.
In people suffering from autism, however, the amount of peptides in the blood is increased and therefore, there will also be an increased amount of peptides in the brain. This increased amount of peptides in the brain can, according to the researcher Reichelt, damage the brain. It takes 4 - 6 months for the morphine peptides to be excreted.
Causes for increased amounts of peptides in the intestine
This can be caused by a lack of the enzymes responsible for peptide breakdown. This can happen if:
- There are genetically conditioned defects in the necessary endopeptidase enzymes (enzymes connected to a cell which normally breaks down its peptides).
- There are vitamin- and mineral deficiencies connected to vitamins and minerals essential to the effect of the enzymes.
- The pH (acidity) in the relevant areas of the intestine is too high or too low for the specific enzymes to be able to work properly.
Even in case of a normal amount of peptides in the intestine, it is important that the intestinal wall is tight. In quite a few children with autism, a more pronounced permeability of the intestinal wall can be observed.
What is the cause of the increased permeability of the intestinal wall?
It can be caused by a physical damage; for example a surgical procedure or a natural defect. During normal circumstances, the protein coat of the intestinal wall is covered with (sulphated) sulphur producing a coherent protective layer on the intestinal surface. In places where the sulphating is insufficient, the proteins will clogg and the layer will be incoherent resulting in an increased permeability of the intestinal wall. The transport of peptides through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream will then be violently increased.
Vaccinations and changes in the intestinal wall in people with autism
Many parents have insisted that the autism observed in their child has not become visible until after a vaccination program. The traditional and orthodox reaction has been to counterprove this, and harsh discussions and critisism have been the results of this postulation.
The researcher Dr. Andrew Wakefield has pointed to the fact that the part of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) consisting of the measles vaccine will provoke quite large abnormalities in the intestinal wall (the vaccine consists of living, although weakened measles virus).
This happens because measles is a viral infection which in its first stage takes place in the mucous membranes and lymphatic system before the fever and rash in the second stage will occur. Sometimes, the damage is so serious that Dr. Wakefield suggests that Crohn's disease (a serious intestinal disease) can result from it. A greatly increased seepage from the intestinal wall will be a logic consequence of this. Two English studies have been made in which the lymph nodes in the intestinal wall of children were examined. The study showed that:
- 38 out of 41 children with autism had living measle virus in the lymphatic system of their intestines after having been vaccinated.
- 24 out of 25 children with autism had living measle virus in the intestinal lymphatic system compared to only 1 out of 15 in non-autistic children.
These results point in the direction that the vaccination against measles can affect the intestinal wall in such a way that the result is an increased permeability.
The effect of morphine peptides on the immune system
The abnormalities in the immune system which have been found in people with autism can be the result of an increased morphine activity.
The effect of the immune system is dependent on the concentration of morphine peptides. The result can be:
- An over-active immune system (observed in allergies and eczema) or
- An under-active immune system with a deviating production of antibodies so that organisms such as for example candida, herpes, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) have a chance to "settle" and significantly contribute to the already existing problems.
The effect of morphine peptides on perception
Morphine peptides will have a disturbing effect on neurotransmission on the synaptic level (where two nerve cells exchange information) and decrease the strength of the sensory impulses (which leads impressions to the brain).
Sensory impressions such as taste, sound, and proprioception (a sense of position or movement of the head, legs, arms, and all joints of the body) will all be affected in people with autism. This can explain that people with autism have a strong love for spicy food.
The sensory impression process is quite complex:
- It transmits impulses from the sensory tissue to the areas in the brain where the impulses are translated and interpreted.
- Simultaneously, in other areas of the brain, impulses will be sent which makes it possible to sort the sensory impressions in order to let the relevant impulses be received and processed.
Morphine peptides can inhibit these sorting processes so that they become incomplete and insufficient. For example will the background noise from traffic be more or as important as the teacher's voice to a child with autism - just like the light flashes in a computer screen, an unpleasant smell, or things lying on the floor can prevent the child from concentrating about the main event.
Testing of content of morphine peptides in blood and urine
Since morphine peptides in the blood are excreted through the kidneys, testing of the children is done by taking a urine sample (midstream urine) and the peptide content of the urine can subsequently be measured. This is done because the children will most often not like having a blood sample talem and also because the peptide content in the urine to a certain extent reflects the peptide content in the blood.
Good results with having strongly reduced the amount of plant pigments and antioxidants in the diet have led to the theory of luteine intolerance. According to this theory, a genetic wrong coding of the immune system of the foetus has taken place, and the child will then react negatively towards this substance which is primarily present in yellow, green, and orange fruits and vegetables. Preliminary experiences indicate that 10% can achieve freedom from symptoms and 80% can achieve symptom relief.
The effect of vaccines on autism
Vaccines are cultivated on: rabbit brains, dog- and monkey kidneys, hen- and duck eggs, cells from human abortions, calf serum, and pig- or horse blood.
- Proteins from animals and human foetal cells. Normally, proteins will be broken down into amino acids before reaching the bloodstream. This will not happen, however, when the vaccine is injected into the human organism and can possibly be a cause of allergic reactions.
- Animal genetic material which is collected in living virus in vaccines; the virus can then inoculate genetic material from animals into humans.
- Preservatives, aid substances, neutralizing substances, and stabilizers. These can consist of the toxic mercury compound thiomersal, aluminium phosphate, acetone, and glycerine. They can have toxic effects even in the small doses which are injected into the tissue of infants through vaccines. Aluminium and mercury has the effect of a nerve poison.
The new vaccines do not contain thiomersal but aluminiun sulphate. Most vaccines in the English vaccine program for children are free of thiomersal.
Hair mineral analyses of new-born babies indicate that autistic children have a reduced ability to excrete mercury in the body.
In the University of Michigan, some researchers believe that autism is caused by the reaction of the immune system to viral attacks being led in the wrong direction since after a viral attack large amounts of antibodies to the proteins of the brain (what is known as an autoimmune reaction) have been found in people with autism.
Since autism occurs when something disturbs the normal cerebral development, some researchers believe that a similar reaction can explain the deviations in the brain normally found in people with autism.
Research shows that even though the amount of viral antibodies were the same in autistic people and non-autistic people, the majority of autistic children had auto-antibodies against cerebral proteins in addition to the viral antibodies.
According to this study, the main connection was between antibodies against the measles virus and the cerebral antibody MBP pointing to the possibility that exposure to measles virus can cause an autoimmune reaction to occur which can disturb the development of myelin (the sheaths surrounding the nerves). If the myelin in the brain does not develop properly, the nerve fibres will not be able to function properly. Parents of autistic children can tell that the children show signs of this suffering shortly after having been vaccinated with either the MMR- or the DTP (diptheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine.
According to Dr. Baynak, certain viruses can react with each other seeing that the mumps virus has a tendency to interfere with the cells' immune defence reaction to certain types of measles virus and in some cases it has the possibility of reducing the body's ability to rid itself of these vira - increasing the risk of chronic infections.
Measles have been known for being a risk factor in chronic intestinal infections such as colitis ulcerosa and Crohn's disease when it occurs simultaneously as the mumps.
The parents' stories are almost always about the combination vaccine MMR and very seldomly about the monovalent measles vaccine.
The diet should be:
- Freshly made
- Free of additives, colouring agents, preservatives, and sweetening agents
- Organically- or biodynamically grown (because this makes it easier to avoid harmful additives etc.).
- Casein-free (free of dairy products)
- Gluten-free (free of cereals such as wheat, rye, barley, and oat)
- Free of yeast and sugar - in the most severe cases, soya beans and soy products, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, avocado, and maize should also be excluded.
Also pay attention to the fact that some people cannot tolerate the carotene lutein. These people will also suffer from visual problems since the function of lutein is to protect the eye against ultraviolet radiation.
After the introduction of a diet that does not result in the formation of morphine peptides, a couple of months or up to ½ year will go by before these peptides are excreted. The diet plan requires total observance - probably for the rest of the life. The process is connected with severe withdrawal symptoms just like in drug dependence - and there are reports that even minor misdemeanoursagainst such a dairy- and gluten-free diet can result in very long relapses.
The reward in many cases turns out to be a high degree of symptom relief - especially ifthe the duration of the autism has been short.
Vitamins and minerals
Children with autism often require encompassing supplements of vitamins and minerals. Products containing natural vitamin A and not its precursor, beta-carotene, should be used. Supplements with little or no copper are preferred. On the other hand, children with autism often have a low iron intake, making this a beneficial supplement.
Many children with autism produce too little glutathione, which is a tripeptide composed of three amino acids and a very important detoxifying antioxidant. Experience shows that supplements which increase the body’s content of this substance, can reduce autism symptoms.
Other kinds of treatment
The Son-rise method or the option method.
It is offered at the Option Institute in Sheffield, Massachusetts, USA. The method is based on a philosophical approach to life. The parents are instructed and supervised in the treatment techniche. The treatment is based around a physical environment in which the child is cut off from the surroundings and is free to move around in the room without danger elements together with one person.
It is based on a determined anchoring about attachment as a lasting phychologic connection between people. The attachment to the mother from the start of the pregnancy is the starting point for the child's development. The treatment consists of the parents being supposed to hold the child, have eye-contact with it even though it resists, and share feelings verbally.
Facilitated Communication (the message board method).
Consists of a person helping the autistic person to lead the hand to spell words and sentences on a PC, type writer, or by means of a message board.
Consists of stimulating the integration of various sensory impressions - Sensory Integration therapy (SI). This happens by means of swings, balls, trampolines, soft brushes, massage, scents, etc.
Scotopic Sensitivity training uses a special eyeglas lens that is coloured in such a way that it can break some of the light wave lengths which some autistic people (with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome) have difficulties percepting.
It is used for people with specific learning disabilities (e.g. reading difficulties).
In Auditive Integreation Therapy, the person listens to specially modulated music on ear phones which stimulates the exact sound area to which the person reacts unnormally.
Can relieve a too tight cerebral meninx and motor problems.
Can be used in relation to detoxication of formaldehyde and heavy metals from vaccines.
Also see "Coeliac disease", "Food intolerance", and "Schizophrenia".
Changing the Course of Autism. Bryan Jepson, M.D. with Jane Johnson.
Sentient Publications 2007. ISBN 978-1-59181-061-2