Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a complex neurological syndrome with impaired brain development and function.
In most cases it affects the areas of the brain which deals with social and communication skills. Also, inappropriate behavior and trouble with motor skills are common in Autism.
Unlike other children autistic children are less responsive and even if they respond they need more time than normal kids. Other than that, lack of interest in sports, poor eye contact and delayed speech or flat speech are classic symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in every 59 American children are suffering from Autism.
In the case of Canada, 1 in 165 children has Autism. These numbers are more shocking if you consider the entire globe.
Treatment for Autism
It is true that Autism has no perfect cure but you can improve an autistic child with some therapy. Some of the common Autism therapies include:
- Behavior Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Speech-Language Therapy
- Nutritional Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Joint Attention Therapy
- Early Intervention
These are a few of the available treatments for Autism – there are many more.
Nutrients to Help Autism
Most Autistic children have food preferences and limit their food intake.
Strongly flavored foods, seafood, fruits and vegetables are usually top in their dislike list. Other than that, they have a tendency of not finishing their meal.
Some autistic kids also have medical conditions like eczema, gastrointestinal distress and food allergens that narrow down their food options.
This makes it a big challenge to supply natural supplements with a balanced diet. Vitamins and minerals have significant roles both in growth and brain development. So, planning a balanced diet can make a world of difference in their living.
Minerals and Vitamins
Children with Autism are often picky eaters so they lack irons and magnesium in their diet.
Iron deficiency can cause gastrointestinal distress and in worst condition anemia. It is a condition where there is a deficiency of RBC for proper oxygen supply.
On the other hand, magnesium and vitamin B6 are linked to improving nerve and brain development. They work exclusively to help autistic children’s behavior.
Besides, multivitamins aid digestive problems and improve sleep in the Autistic child.
Supplements and vitamins can be in a liquid, chewable, sublingual or pill form. Make sure you consult a pediatrician before you add any additional supplements to their diet.
Gluten-Free and Casein-Free Diet
A number of clinical studies suggest that kids can benefit from a gluten-free and casein-free diet.
Gluten is the major protein in grains like wheat, rye, barley, Kamut, triticale, and spelt. Casein is the major protein in milk and other dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and ice cream.
Many children with Autism can not process peptides and proteins effectively like other children. Gluten and casein can lead to adverse chemical reactions like shorter attention span and hyperactivity.
An alternative digestive plan would help autistic children to get over such problems.
Children with Autism generally have low levels of omega-3 fats. Fish oil is a popular source of omega 3 fat supplements. It contains two main types of fatty acids- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Omega-3 fats not only lowers the risk of heart disease but also improves brain and mental health. These fats are abundant in the cell membrane of neurons and help to facilitate impulse between nerve endings.
Omega 3 fatty acids have significant impacts on the brain’s function and development.
Other than fish oil, you can try flax seeds and chia seeds for natural omega-3 fat sources.
Probiotics are good bacteria that fights the bad bacteria in our gut and improves digestion.
Most children with Autism Spectrum Disorder suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Because of poor digestion, they have insufficient supplies of adequate nutrients to their body.
Probiotics not only improves digestion but also boosts our immune system in the body. Our gut has a correlation with the brain.
Adding probiotics to the child’s diet can help improve Autism in the long run. Some of the natural sources of probiotics are yogurt, miso, kimchi and kefir.
Try Brain Foods
Brain foods supply all-important nutrients for brain development and function. Here are some of the best brain foods for Autistic children:
When it comes to milk, everyone knows that it strengthens our bones and muscles. However, milk also helps to develop our brain and makes it more functional.
Regular milk intake spikes the glutathione level in the brain. It’s a naturally occurring antioxidant that lowers oxidative stress of metabolic functions in the brain.
Cocoa powder and chocolates are rich with flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants. The flavonoids in chocolates help to boost memory and improve learning.
Above all, chocolates work best for a mood lift up and short term energy bursts.
Nuts a high-calorie food that prevents neurodegenerative disease and improves cognition. They are a rich source of vitamin E and have plenty of DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acids) in their content.
Peanuts, in particular, will provide plenty of niacin or vitamin B3.
Niacin helps to stimulate serotonin( a neurotransmitter in the brain) production and this has significant effects to improve Autism stimming.
Furthermore, nuts help to improve brain memory and learn capabilities.
Eggs are studded with choline, folate, vitamin B6, and B12.
The choline present in eggs improves acetylcholine (a neurot
ansmitter in the brain) production. That improves our memory and mood. Other than that, Vitamin B12 synthesizes brain chemicals and folic acid prevents age-related mental decline called dementia.
5. Green Tea
Green tea is always a popular choice for weight loss but the caffeine in green tea also improves brain functionality.
Although you can get caffeine in coffee and in other variants of tea, green tea is exclusive for its L-theanine. This amino acid works to enhance GABA (a neurotransmitter in the brain) activity in our brain. You feel more relaxed and calm and alleviate mental stress.
Other than these you can give them more brain foods like blueberries, oranges, raisins, spinach, broccoli and pumpkin seeds.
However, be sure to consult a dietician in order to tailor a diet plan for your kid.
Autism and Nutrition
Though Autism is incurable, by integrating different therapy and planned nutritional meals their overall condition can be improved.
They can survive better if you nurture them well.
Just like other normal children, kids with Autism also deserve the best.