Autism is a mysterious condition, which leaves its victims locked in their own minds, finding a cure is paramount. However, before a cure can be found doctors and researchers first have to understand just what autism is. Currently, 1 in 88 children or 1 in 54 boys will be diagnosed with some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD). It is one of the least understood disorders and one of the fastest growing diagnoses.
According to the Autism Speaks website there is currently no standards by which a doctor tests for asd. In order to be diagnosed, patients must first bring their concerns to their doctor and then be referred to a physician who specializes in autism where a series of tests are performed. Without a set way to diagnose asd and because it is a spectrum disorder determining what treatments will be successful, let alone lead to a cure can be difficult.
Treatment options for asd include everything from behavioral therapist to changing diets, and for a few parents the latter option seems to be yielding the best results. Known as the Autism Diet, it involves going wheat-free and dairy-free. Doctors however caution against drastic changes in a child’s diet, especially cutting out diary since it seems that most children with asd lack vitamin D a key nutrient in milk. One option then is to substitute camel’s milk for regular cow’s milk. In order to unlock a cure, autism researchers with Bashir and Al-Ayadhi have begun to look at the mysterious illness new ways. In doing so they have found that there is some effect to behavior as well as the underlying biochemistry in the brains of autistic people who have made the switch to camel’s milk from cow’s milk. Bringing them to the question, will this simple treatment lead to healthier children? The research is still in the early stages and researchers are cautiously optimistic at this point.
More than changing diet a new drug on the market seems to have promising results. Bumetanide, a diuretic often times used to treat high blood pressure is showing positive results on autistic children. Furthermore, recent research points to a connection between Oxytocin and autism. Research done out of Marseille, France, suggests that when Oxytocin is inhibited in pregnant mice their babies are born with a form of autism. This key information while still being studied, could help with presenting a cure for autism in the future.
A recent study done with 600 participants found that approximately 7 percent of autistic children were on a gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) diet. Since autistic children are prone to gastrointestinal problems, parents, caregivers, and doctors suggest that dietary changes can be helpful. It is important to note that because autism is a spectrum disorder not all autistic children will suffer from gastrointestinal problems. The same study saw many patients undergoing alternative treatments, some of which were statistically unsafe.
Like so many treatment options, the research is ongoing, and so when parents attempt something like the Oxytocin treatment they are often times doing it on their own without the recommendation of a doctor. Not all treatments are dangerous, drastic changes in diet however could be. So could the Oxytocin treatment, or at least that is what researches are trying to determine. Since there is not enough evidence as to the long-term effects of Oxytocin on the brain, further research is necessary. One researcher Karen Bales is hoping to organize a study some time in 2014 to further examine these effects.
Parents who have tried various treatments, including dietary changes have been warned that these efforts may yield false results. With limited data available, parents and researchers will have to simply wait and be hopeful that someday the mystery of autism will be unlocked and a cure will be found.
By Rachel Woodruff