Non-Drug Natural Treatments for Aspergers
By all accounts, autism spectrum disorders (ASD's), including Asperger's Syndrome, are on the rise. Statistics released by the CDC in 2007 indicate that 1 in 150 children in the United States have been diagnosed with some type of ASD. Among boys, this number is 1 in 94. Children with Asperger's have difficulties with peer social interactions, tend to obsess about a particular (often obscure) topic, have sensory issues, and can adopt inflexible routines. My son was diagnosed when he was 8 years old and I immediately set out to understand all I could about his condition. I've never been a proponent of drug therapy so I decided to use a variety of non-drug, natural treatments. Shown below are the treatments that have been effective with my son.
Children with ASD can benefit from dietary changes. Two diets that are being used successfully are the Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) diet and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). The GFCF diet eliminates all sources of gluten and casein from the child's diet. The SCD is more limited in that it doesn't allow grains or refined sugar of any kind. It involves baking with almond flour instead of wheat flour. I put my son on the SCD and noticed a huge improvement in his mood, lessened anxiety, fewer digestive issues, and more focus. In fact, he recently told me that he wants to remain on the diet indefinitely because he feels so much better on it. I highly recommend the book "Breaking the Vicious Cycle," by Elaine Gottschall. It explains the mechanism by which the diet works and even includes recipes. The following websites are also helpful.
- Gluten Free, Grain Free Blueberry Muffin Recipe Step...
Breakfast can be tricky if you're following a gluten free or grain free diet. Follow these step-by-step instructions for how to make delicious gluten free, grain free blueberry muffins that are also SCD compliant.
- SCD Recipes and Ideas for Your Child's Birthday Cake...
For children on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, birthdays and holidays can leave them feeling sad and left out. While everyone else is eating cake, candy and cookies, the child on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet may be relegated to eating fruit. This
- The Specific Carbohydrate Diet: Simple SCD Recipes ...
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) was developed by Dr. Sydney Hass and later popularized by Elaine Gottshall, who treated her daughter using it. Although originally developed to treat celiac and Crohn's disease, it is now commonly being used to tr
- The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) on a Budget
The SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) doesn't need to be expensive so don't let the potential cost discourage you from trying this beneficial diet. By purchasing in bulk, using a freezer, and planning ahead, you can bring the annual cost of this diet
- The Scientific Diet for GI Problems, Autism and Other Conditions
Specific Carbohydrate Diet, a scientific diet for autism, digestive disorders and other conditions.
High quality dietary supplements are also helpful. Because digestive problems are common in children with ASD, use a high quality digestive enzyme before each meal. I use one that's approved for the SCD that I get from www.giprohealth.com, called Pro-Zyme. They also sell an SCD approved multi-vitamin called GI Pro Child. I also give my son a daily Vitamin D supplement, Calcium-Magnesium, and DHA.
The basic premise of homeopathy is to treat like with like. The homeopathic remedy given for a particular condition is the same substance that would cause the symptoms in a healthy individual. When you visit a homeopath, he or she will take an inventory of all symptoms, whether they be physical or psychological. They then assign a specific remedy based on these unique symptoms. When my son started treatment, he told me that it made him feel calmer. I can tell when he's ready for the next level of his remedy because he'll exhibit more behavior issues. Once he moves up to the new level, these disappear. Check out the book "Impossible Cure," by Amy L. Lansky, PhD for more information on treating ASD with homeopathy.
Social Skills Building
Children with Aspergers have difficulties relating to their peers. Whereas neurotypical children just seem to know how to get along with others, it's a learned skill among children with Aspergers. Social skills groups can help by teaching in a real social environment. My son attends a weekly group that's supervised by a Psychologist who can observe and correct behaviors. He also attends a weekly session at school plus a supervised play group during school recess. These sessions have helped him figure out the unwritten rules and social norms more quickly.
Support at School
If your child doesn't already have one, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is imperative. The IEP will outline modifications to your child's environment and to teaching methods. For example, my son was given a full time aide to help him stay focused and to coach him on coping methods and on successful interaction with peers. My son also receives weekly Occupational Therapy sessions where they work with him on sensory integration and fine motor skills/handwriting. I already mentioned the weekly social skills groups and supervised recess. These changes at school have greatly reduced my son's anxiety and have helped him to actually start learning. He's now getting A's in math, science, and spelling. His reading fluency and comprehension have improved as well.
If you don't have an IEP, the first step is to ask your school to do a psycho-educational evaluation. This will be used as a basis for developing the IEP. I would recommend getting your own private evaluation as well. If you need help, there are great books and websites on the subject, such as Nolo's IEP Guide. Please see the resources at the end of this article.
Putting it All Together
I know it's overwhelming thinking about implementing everything discussed above, but know that it's worth it. Also, don't feel pressure to do everything at once. Try one thing at a time until you've covered the spectrum. In the case of my son, after about a year and a half, he's like a completely different person. Although he still has some difficulty focusing in school, he no longer has temper tantrums and is much happier overall. His level of anxiety is way down too and he has friends now!