Biomedical, as the name suggests is coined from two words- Biological and medical. In context with ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bio-medical is an approach for the treatment of Autism that puts into consideration the various biological processes and reasons, targeting them in the treatment plan. The human brain has the ability to learn, grasp information, engages, develops and grows consistently throughout the life of an individual. All of these processes that the brain indulges in are dependent on various other factors. The bi-medical treatment seeks to optimize those specific factors which encourage the brain’s proper functioning and development. This article will discuss in detail all those factors as well as their role in treating Autism.
Precisely, Biomedical treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder takes into consideration the body’s system functions like Genetic and metabolic abnormalities, dysregulation in the immune system, gastrointestinal disorders, disorders that are nutrition-based, etc that together impact the function of the human brain. In simpler words, Bio-medic treatment focuses on those environmental factors that affect the body and seeks to eliminate their effect as a treatment goal.
- Metabolic disorders– Our body breaks down the food using enzymes, through which, it transforms fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy. Any metabolic disorder interferes with this energy production process and thus hampers the overall effective function of the organs. Some mitochondrial and neurometabolic disorders can be associated with ASD. Individuals diagnosed with ASD, generally have a lot of diet restrictions resulting because of food allergies.
Additionally, difficulties with sensory processing impact their food item selection, thus affecting their intake of foods that are rich in essential minerals and nutrients. Studies reveal that mineral and vitamin deficiency may trigger environmental, behavioral and genetic causes. For instance, the ability to process language, sensory perception and attention may get affected if there is a deficit in G-alpha protein. This protein can be fixed with consuming adequate levels of Vitamin A.
Similarly, several studies have highlighted the connection with low vitamin D levels in mothers during pregnancy with the development of ASD in the child. Vitamin D protects the tissues in the brain that help in dealing with cognitive impairment, stimulates the development of the brain, which further reduces the potential risk of Autism, etc.
Another such example is Zinc, which helps in regulating the body’s immune function. Precisely, a protein called Metallothionein removes mercury from brain and heavy metals from the body. Having low levels of Zinc impairs this protein.
- Diet- The diet of a person correlates with Autism symptoms. Casein, which is found in cow’s milk, gluten, etc consists of proteins that hamper the functioning of the immune system. This may lead to constipation, attention problems, delay in speech and language, etc. Eliminating such proteins from the diet of those diagnosed with ASD can help improve their immune response and limit inflammation. Other than these, consuming whole food diets should be encouraged as it helps improve maladaptive behaviours like sleep-related issues, hyperactivity, constipation, stimming, and helps improve attention. Food items that contain additives, artificial flavouring and preservatives, food colouring, etc should be avoided.
- Environment- Research suggests that there is a strong correlation between environmental exposure and genetics factors with the development of Autism disorder. The DNA lays down the entire foundation for an individual’s health, however, it is the environmental factors that strongly influence it. The food and water we consume, the place we live in, impacts the health of offspring through genes. Specifically, pesticides, GMO’s, Mercury and other harmful toxins found in the environment impact our health.
To limit such exposure, consume whole foods that are organically grown. Try to ensure that the food you consume had access to purified water, wasn’t genetically modified and reside in a locality that has lower levels of air pollution. Taking care of all these factors helps decrease the toxic overall toxic elements in one’s body.
- Gastrointestinal disorders- In several children who are diagnosed with ASD, issues related to the gut exist comorbidly. This includes chronic constipation, pain in the abdomen, and sometimes severe pain, which may further lead to exhibiting self-injurious and aggressive behaviours by a person. This shows that there is a strong connection between gastrointestinal disorders and the severity and prevalence of symptoms in a child with ASD.
Clearly, bio-medical treatment offers great prospects in treating Autism. Other than this, other commonly practiced for the treatment of Autism include Occupational therapy, Play therapy, Speech and language therapy, ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis), Sensory integration therapy, etc. Consult a clinical psychologist or a child therapist for comprehensive guidance regarding the treatment of Autism.
He/she will analyse the child’s symptoms and severity of the same and based on it, structure a plan or strategies to take care of the child’s developmental needs and delayed milestones. One thing that a parent should know is that early intervention can make a huge difference in improving skill development and decreasing the severity of the symptoms in the child. And so, consulting the child psychologist or clinical psychologist is in the best interest of the child.