Autism is a developmental disorder affecting 1 in 58 children in the U.S. The most common features of autism are difficulty with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitious or abnormally restricted interests. Individuals with autism tend to lack empathy for others and are self-centered. They thrive on rigid routines and are intolerant to change. Some engage in repetitive movements (spinning, rocking, arm flapping or self-abusive acts like biting or head-banging) known as stims. This is a way of compensating for inappropriate sensory input and is often the only means by which they can feel their bodies or interact with their environment. Autistics may have increased or decreased sensitivity to sound, touch, pain, or other sensations. Thus, they may either shun or crave physical affection. They often have narrow food preferences due to an impaired sense of smell.
What is driving the epidemic?
The cause of autism is a subject of ongoing debate, regarding genetic versus environmental etiology. Interestingly, only about 28 suspected genes have been identified and appear in approximately one percent of cases. Besides, there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic, and very few autistics reproduce. The majority of human genes can be modified and are thus either “turned on” or “turned off”, depending upon one’s environment. The emerging science, EPIGENETICS explains thatthe increased sedentary lifestyle of our society, its resultant obesity epidemic, along with over-exposure to visual technology, and processed foods are largely responsible for keeping genes in a dormant state during critical stages of development. There are other factors, and while parents may have subtle tendencies in what is known as “cognitive style” which can be passed on to their offspring, the right or wrong lifestyle can play a major hand in whether or not a child will be autistic.
In most cases, there is a weakness of the right cerebral hemisphere; however, a careful examination is critical, since a child can have left brain deficiencies as well. Just as in ADHD, this is Functional Disconnect Syndrome – impaired communication between the right and left sides of the brain. When hemispheric integration is performed correctly, the results are very positive.