ADD/ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is a common behavior disorder in children. Children diagnosed with ADHD display behaviors such as inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) frequently have difficulty with social interactions and communication as well as emotional regulation. Children with ASD may also display repetitive and restrictive behaviors, which make them highly resistant to change in routine.
Although ADD/ADHD and ASD are separate and distinct disorders, doctors and researchers have now recognized similar underlying health challenges including gastrointestinal distress, food sensitivities, an impaired immune system, and nutritional deficiencies. It is important to choose a doctor who is trained to address the variety of imbalances which contribute to AD(H)D and autism including nutritional, gastrointestinal, immunological, and detoxification. Addressing the underlying causes of illness may result in improvement in physical as well as behavioral symptoms.
The Medical Association for Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS) is an educational fellowship for medical practitioners to understand and treat the imbalances which contribute to AD(H)D and Autism using natural therapies. NaturoMedica physician Dr. Lisa Wada is a MAPS trained physician who specializes in the treatment of AD(H)D and ASD.
Proper nutrition is the foundation for the healthy development of the brain and nervous system. Many children with developmental and behavior disorders refuse to try foods with different tastes and textures. In addition, many of these children crave sugar and refined carbohydrates, which often take the place of many healthy foods. Dietary changes can have a dramatic impact on behavior in children which may allow for less pharmaceutical intervention. NaturoMedica physicians work closely with each child and their parents/care providers to ensure that their individual nutritional needs are met.
Gastrointestinal diseases plague children on both the autism spectrum as well as those with AD(H)D for a variety of reasons. Constipation and diarrhea impair the body's ability to absorb nutrients and contribute to impaired immune function as well as imbalanced neurotransmitters. Addressing the cause of gastrointestinal disease can help to restore balance to the system making healing more likely. Research continues to validate that there is a gut-brain connection which greatly influences behavior. Treating the gut not only improves nutrient absorption but can have a positive impact on your child’s behavior.
In some cases, a child’s neurodevelopment may be disrupted by exposure to certain environmental chemicals, heavy metals and toxins. Research suggests that exposure to neurotoxic compounds, that are believed to be safe for adults, can result in damage to neural tissue for children if they are exposed during a critical developmental time. Although this an emerging area of study, NaturoMedica physicians are familiar with specialized environmental testing and detoxification protocols for children.
If your child suffers from ADD/ADHD or ASD, it is reassuring to know that naturopathic medicine has a lot to offer in terms of alternative testing and treatment.