By Teresa Conrick
2017 had good and bad attached to it. For many of us, the death of our dear colleague and friend, Dan Olmsted, has saddened many a day since..... Dan did much innovative research and writing for years to expose the issues that bring us all here daily. Age of Autism has become a refuge for years now, to so many looking for truth and answers. As we enter 2018, I would like to keep with that tradition by sharing my list of what I think is important and innovative in the science area of autism. It's imperative that families know that there is good research happening but unfortunately, there's a hell of a lot of bad research about autism, and often we hear about that too much.... especially the mulri-million dollars wasted on genes (have you seen the constant SPARK, pop-up infomercials on Facebook, a nowhere odyssey of genetic, musical chairs?) We need real research to help so many who suffer with the many symptoms of autism - painful GI disease; seizures; inability to speak or communicate in a meaningful manner or, at all; extreme sensory disturbance; executive functioning disability; debilitating obsessions, compulsions and tics; acute anxiety; heartbreaking self-injurious behaviors; and the daily struggles with social cues. Much of this originates in the gut.
Studies on Causation
Healing the Brain
I have written so much on the MICROBIOME and will keep expanding on that in 2018 because it is the most important aspect of healing for our children and young adults. There is so much hope. Massive amounts of research keep showing that to heal the brain, you need to manipulate the gut microbiome. Some examples:
Published last January, Dae-Wook Kang and Jim Adams, et al, showed bacterial transplant via FMT changed not only the bacteria in the gut but the behaviors in the autistic children:
Other researchers have followed with similar success, each study seemingly related to some of the co-morbid symptoms that autism individuals may have.
Both ANTIBIOTICS and PROBIOTICS are being researched for the positive (and any negative) changes that they may produce in autism. These both have been important in giving many positives for my daughter. This study is being funded by N of One: Autism Research Foundation, a favorite of mine:
Other studies from the recent past that show what an important avenue of research this is for autism. Again, Megan's response to antibiotics has been extremely positive.
♦ Reduction of Ritualistic Behavior in a Patient with Autism Spectrum Disorder treated with Antibiotics: A Case Report http://www.jpsychiatrypsychiatricdisord.com/articles/reduction-of-ritualistic-behavior-in-a-patient-with-autism-spectrum-disordertreated-with-antibiotics-a-case-report.html
And another role for antibiotics in autism - controlling brain inflammation:
Then we see PROBIOTICS as another way to manipulate the gut and thus, the brain, as well as DIET:
Autism and PANDAS/PANS
I also want to mention that Madeleine W. Cunningham, Ph.D, .will be submitting the results of her study, Anti-Neuronal Autoantibodies in PANDAS and Autism Spectrum Disorders in about a month or two. I want to thank her for her email replies to me and compassionate support as Megan has both an autism and PANDAS/PANS diagnosis. From Dr. Cunningham: "We studied ASD and ASD with PANS symptoms and investigated the autoantibodies and their cross reactivity with microbial polysaccharides .This study was supported by Autism Speaks and should be published this year. I know that you must be at your wits end trying to find answers. Autism Speaks supported me for two years and I am very grateful for their support. The article is lengthy but will be enlightening about infections and the potential development of autism and PANDAS/PANS."
The results of that study may be helpful for many more children and young adults to be able to receive immune treatments, which leads me to another study that I will pass on as we welcome year 2018:
Thank you to Dr. Cunningham and all of these other researchers who are putting so much effort, as well as their their heart and soul, into helping our children. I will start 2018 with this quote in mind as it is so true:
"A diagnosis of ASD continues to be behaviorally defined. However, the body of research and accumulating evidence with respect to immune system perturbations in ASD suggest that a broader approach should be taken in order to understand biological systems as they pertain to ASD and associated behaviors."
Teresa Conrick is Science Editor for Age of Autism.