Maya had GI issues such as constipation, bloating, gassiness, very picky eater, a lot of pain behavior as well as yeast & fungal related behaviors. She would scratch her bottom all the time, occasionally there are peeling skin at the bottom of her feet and sometimes she would bite the skin off her toes. She hated wearing shoes and sometimes she would scratch her back till it bled.
Treating her GI issues was our most immediate concern, and we finally figured out that some of her behavior such as scratching and biting was due to yeast overgrowth.
One of the focus of biomedical intervention is to heal gastrointestinal disorders. 91% of children with Autism has gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Examples of GI distress include inflammation of the gut, abnormal intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut syndrome), malabsorption, maldigestion, reflux esophagitis, colitis, yeast or fungal overgrowth and others. 70% of the body’s immune system lies in the gut, making it a very important part of your biomedical protocol.
GI symptoms usually presents itself as chronic constipation, diarrhea, abnormal stools, foul smelling stools, bloating and gassiness. Obvious symptoms such as these are easier to detect, however some children do not present these symptoms.
There are also other subtle symptoms or clues that a child has GI issues. Historical clues may include difficulty breast feeding, persistent colic, reflux, eczema, food sensitivities, picky eater, frequent antibiotics, abnormal posturing, self-injurious behavior and poor sleep. Our children may have a combination of these symptoms.
Some of the behavior linked to gastrointestinal distress include confusion, hyperactivity, short attention span, lethargy, irritability and aggression. It also causes headaches, stomachaches, constipation, gas pains, fatigue and depression. Reflux and intestinal discomfort may also be a reason for your child’s sleep problems.
You may require to do stool and urine tests for this, please refer to my previous blog on testing.
What causes it?
Gastrointestinal dysbiosis (imbalance) may occur in Autism through different means; frequent use of antibiotics causes a depletion of the good flora in our gut. The lack of beneficial flora will lead to an overgrowth of bad flora & bacteria such as clostridia. Damage caused by other environmental toxic assaults such as pesticides, heavy metals and chemicals may result in nutritional deficiencies. Food sensitivities such as gluten and casein causes damage to the intestine and the mucosal lining, which results in leaky gut and painful inflammation. Parasites and viral infections are also commonly reported in Autism children.
A combination of the lack of good flora and a bad diet results in yeast and fungal overgrowth. Foods such as sugar and simple carbohydrates keeps on feeding the yeast. Yeast or more commonly candida usually resides in the digestive tract. When the yeast multiples, it releases toxins in the body. And these toxins also impair the central nervous system and the immune system. Apart from rashes, yeast and fungal overgrowth may also present itself behaviorally.
Healing the gut
The basic protocol involves removing the allergens in food- the IgG food sensitivity test will help to identify what foods your child is allergic to. The GFCF diet is a very good start, also avoid yeast, sugars and artificial colors, flavorings and preservatives.
It’s important to replenish essential vitamins and minerals, give probiotics and start taking enzymes. Super Nu Thera, calcium and vitamin C is a good base to start with. Make sure you get the refrigerated type of probiotics – ask a pharmacy for probiotics multi-species at the highest CFUs you can find. I like to start at 10 billion CFUs a day, then work up to twice a day. A digestive enzyme of the DPP-IV variety is recommended with every meal. You can implement the diet, baseline supplements, probiotics and enzymes yourself.
Only take antibiotics if it’s absolutely necessary. Please make sure to replenish with more probiotics when taking antibiotics. Apart from killing the virus it’s supposed to, antibiotics also kills up to 90% of the good flora in the gut. When there’s less good flora, there’s more room for the bad flora to grow.
You will need the help of a doctor to prescribe a course of anti-fungal treatment to get rid of candida, some may need to treat clostridia, also anti-viral treatment for the viral infections and anti-inflammatory supplementation.
Healing the gut takes a long time but the benefits are enormous. Just by treating the GI alone does not mean that it will recover your child from Autism. It will take away the discomfort, allow him to concentrate and perform during therapy, it will regulate the immune system, give him a healthy body, improve his quality of life and most importantly it will take away the pain.
Nowadays, Maya is a happier girl, she has regular bowel movements, enjoys her food and is open to new textures and flavors. She is sleeping through the night, doesn’t crave for sugary treats and she no longer has dark circles under her eyes or red rimmed eyes due to food allergies. When Maya’s language improved, I asked her recently about her feet. She replied softly “It’s painful”. Now, Maya has a love for shoes and never ever scratches her bottom at all.