Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disorders affecting the nervous system. It is believed to affect about 1% of the world’s population, with a higher incidence in males. It is generally thought that an autism diagnosis can reliably be made from the age of two, but many children are not diagnosed until after they turn four. However, research has shown that parents notice a developmental problem before the ASD child’s first birthday, for example concerns about hearing and vision.
People with ASD often have symptoms that hamper their ability to function socially and in other areas of life; limited interests or activities; and repetitive behaviors. Some are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are significantly impacted. The symptoms are viewed as permanent, but studies show that interventions can help children to overcome communication, social and developmental challenges.
The integrative medical approach to ASD is to identify and address the underlying multi-factorial causes. A detailed history and physical will be undertaken, including prenatal, birth history, immunizations and developmental milestones. Individualized laboratory tests, for example for food and environmental allergies, may also be recommended, as well as tests for gastrointestinal problems. The personalized treatment program could include, for example, nutritional advice (food can have a significant impact on symptoms); and support services (such as speech and occupational therapy).