Part 1: Why Do Vitamins and Supplements Work?
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) usually have a number of nutrient and mineral deficiencies. This could be due to diet or physiological abnormalities that cause certain nutrients to be poorly absorbed or misused by the digestive system. Many children with autism benefit from diets that exclude certain foods, but these limited kinds of diets can leave their brains lacking the nutrition that they need to function and develop. Whether the autistic child is on a special diet or inflicts a severely limited diet on his or her self, supplementation can help fill in the nutritional gaps and facilitate progress. The majority of autistic children can achieve higher brain function (like speech, language and social skills), have less repetitive and detrimental behaviors, increase immune system function and improve sleep patterns with the use of vitamins and supplements.
The Gluten-free/Casein-free diet and the Specific Carbohydrate diet seriously limit nutritional intake. This does not mean that you should waver from what is helping your child, but you should be aware that supplementation may be necessary. This is also true for autistic children that are very picky eaters, have texture issues with food or who are obsessive about controlling what they eat. Studies and parents have found out that most autistic children greatly benefit from vitamin and supplement implementation. Great developments have been seen in children that have no food allergies, as well as in the ones that need to be on special diets.
Vitamins, minerals and nutrients that autistic children are often deficient in include the B vitamins: B6, B12, B1, B3 and B5. Vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, folate, biotin, Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), and omega-3 fatty acids are also commonly low. The brain can be greatly hindered by these deficiencies and it is no wonder that most autistic children have a very hard time progressing without nutritional supplementation.
A vast majority of autistic children have an elevated level of oxidative stress. This impairs their immune system and puts their nervous system into a hypersensitive state. The hypersensitive state is thought to be caused by the oxidative stress and a long-term inflammation of the body and nervous system. When the brain is inflamed, it tends to function on a primal level, often staying in survival mode. Cognitive skills, social skills and frontal lobe development are severely hindered when the brain is in this state. Children will often feel the need to exhibit stemming behaviors, which can include vocalizing loudly, tapping, hitting or stroking things, rocking, spinning and other repetitive behaviors. This keeps the brain focused on something other than their hypersensitivities.
Vitamins and Supplements have successfully been used to target inflammation, oxidative stress, immunity deficits, stemming, brain development and higher learning in autistic children.
“Part 2” of this series discusses which vitamins and supplements target and improve the nervous and immune systems. Vitamins and supplements offer a safe therapy option that has given many autistic children a chance to overcome the challenges of autism. As a precaution, you should always talk to a doctor about a vitamins and supplements regiment before you begin.