Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group. Experts estimate that 1 out of 88 children age 8 will have an ASD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, March 30, 2012). Males are four times more likely to have an ASD than females.
Three decades ago, when I was still in medical school, autism affected one in 10,000 children. Today, autism is estimated to afflict as many as one in 50 children.
Another critical factor appears to be related to gut bacteria, which are of course also adversely affected by toxic exposures of all kinds, from food, environment, and medicine.
The more we learn about the functions of the human microbiome, the more we come to realize that bacteria may in fact be responsible for a vast majority of human health conditions. As noted in a previous article by Experience L!fe:
“The idea that we have so many more microbial cells than human cells runs counter to the long-held belief that our health is mostly orchestrated by instructions embedded in our DNA.
Scientists worked hard to crack the human genome, but, ultimately, just knowing our genetic codes proved insufficient to actually cure disease. Researchers eventually realized they …
Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means. Autism Speaks’ mission is to improve the lives of all those on the autism spectrum. For some, this means the development and delivery of more effective treatments that can address significant challenges in communication and physical health.
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