Florida's First Choice for Autism Support

Posts tagged ‘Health’

Stress and Depression in Autism

Today I would like to tackle a darker topic, but one that I find to be incredibly important. It’s a subject that needs to be addressed in our society at large, but I want to focus on it in the realm of autism, because I’ve noticed it to a concerning degree, both from personal experience as well as observation. I’m talking about stress and depression. I’m grouping the 2 together as, in my opinion, they essentially go hand-in-hand. There are many things which cause us to feel stress in our daily lives, and for those on the autism spectrum, it can easily spiral down into a dark place of depression. Things such as an overabundance of stimuli, things not going our way at school and/or work, difficulty in our social lives, facing some level of discrimination, etc. Because of the challenges presented to us by ASD, overcoming these obstacles, keeping on the right track and steering clear of the trappings of stress/depression can be very difficult. I’ve dealt with these issues extensively over the course of my life and, while I’ve certainly recovered a great deal from the depression, I continue to struggle with constant stress and anxiety to this day. I would like to further address this topic with some of the information I learned through my research.

Now I should specify, because I’ve noticed that nowadays depression is very often misunderstood. It’s not just feeling down on yourself for a couple days. It’s a prolonged feeling of extreme sadness and hopelessness, characterized by a lack of ambition, pessimism about the future, and feeling very alone. For individuals with autism, the effects can be even worse, with some reporting “a loss of previously learned skills, greater difficulty carrying out everyday tasks, and at worst, suicide.” The findings I came to on this topic were staggering. I knew there was a problem, but I almost wasn’t expecting the severity. According to a study by Springer, nearly half of all people with autism will experience clinical depression at some point in their lives. And that’s not all it mentioned, it goes pretty in-depth into how there is a serious risk factor for those with autism, and much of it stems from our susceptibility to stress. Another thing I found morbidly interesting was that the depression rate seems highest in those with greater intelligence, and since many with autism are exceptionally gifted, you can see how there’s a vicious cycle here.

There truly needs to be more awareness on this issue. Not just for those on the autism spectrum, but for the general population. The reason I wanted to bring light to this crisis, besides personal experience, is because of the disproportionate rate at which it affects those in the autism community. I’m sure for many parents out there, either your loved one has dealt with extreme stress/depression, or maybe even you have when things got particularly rough. Just know that you’re not alone and there are always people who care about you.

B Vitamins and Autism Spectrum Disorders

By: Dr. David Berger, MD, FAAP
Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care

One of the more frequent questions that I am asked about by parents of children with autism spectrum disorders is about the use of B vitamins. This is a family of vitamins that include Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3) Pantothenic acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin (B7), folic acid/folate (B9,, “folic acid” and ” folate” are often used interchangeably) and cobalamin (B12). Each of these nutrients are vital to everyone’s health, but some of them take on a important role in the treatments that we do to help children on the spectrum optimize their development and behaviors. While textbooks can be written on each of these vitamins, I would like to share some of the newer research and how they can be applied to help our children.
Many families have heard about the use of “B-12 shots” and folic acid as a therapy for Autism. About 10 years ago, groundbreaking research was done at Arkansas Children’s Hospital by Dr. Jill James that documented low blood levels of chemicals such as methionine, cysteine and glutathione, which significantly improved when given certain forms of B vitamins. These chemicals are very important for detoxification and the body’s production of anti-oxidants. They keep the immune system strong and reduce allergies and inflammation. They are involved in the metabolism of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
We have learned that there are alterations in genes that activate folic acid (MTHFR is needed to make methylfolate) and B12 (MTRR is needed to make Methyl B12). These DNA switches, which can now be tested for at commercial labs, can result in significant slowing of the enzymes that activate these B vitamins.
Especially if there is a double switch present (we all get 1 copy of these genes from our mom and 1 from our dad), a person may particularly benefit from taking the activated forms of these B vitamins.
Higher doses of activated folate (folinic acid and methylfolate) are also being used in patients that have been identified with having auto-antibodies that are blocking or binding the receptors for folate that are located in the brain. If these antibodies are present, the high doses are therapeutically used to try and bypass the receptor that is being blocked. Improvements in reducing seizures, improving behaviors, and improving communication skills have all been noted with treatment for those with the auto-antibodies. A great review article has been written on this by 2 colleagues, Dan Rossignol, MD and Richard Frye, MD (http://tinyurl.com/folate-receptor-antibodies)
There are many caveats with the use of B vitamins, in terms of the doses, the way they are taken (such as by injection or under the tongue) and how/when they are introduced. B vitamins can be a safe and effective way to treat children with neurodevelopmental disorders, but as with all medical treatments, it is best for these to be done under the supervision of a knowledgeable physician or nurse practitioner.


5th Annual Autism Health & Wellness Symposium

2014 CARD's Autism Health and Wellness Symposium Save the Date

It’s time again for CARD’s Annual Health & Wellness Symposium! Join us as we host our free one day conference aimed at uniting the community around health & wellness for individuals and families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder. Four presenters have been secured to share their expertise around health related topic areas; Caregiver Wellness, Food Aversion & Eating Challenges, Dental Care for Individuals with ASD, and Medical Visits for Individuals with ASD. Exhibitors will be present throughout the day and will share community resource information. We will also be providing Challenging Behavior Screenings as well as ASD Screenings. Appointments are not required for the Challenging Behavior Screenings.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Screenings will be scheduled for families with concerns regarding their child’s development on a case by case basis prior to the date of the event (Please contact Beverly King for more information to schedule your child for an ASD screening at beverlyking@usf.edu)

Register for the event today! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cards-5th-annual-autism-health-wellness-symposium-tickets-12008913985

5th Annual Autism Health & Wellness Symposium

2014 CARD's Autism Health and Wellness Symposium Save the Date


Register today for this FREE one day conference packed with education, resources and screenings.

Saturday, November 1st 12-4pm

Tampa, FL

For more information and to register click here



Tag Cloud