Before 1980 autism was a rare disorder. Scientific studies consistently estimated the rate to be 2-5 per 10,000 people.
In 2004 an official report from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) established that the current incidence of children with autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the US were one in 166. Now the rate is estimated to 1 child in 100 in the US.
Environmental causes of autism, mercury and other heavy metals
An increasing amount of research during the last 20 years shows that children develop autism because their immune system and detoxification ability can no longer cope with increasing environmental stress from vaccinations, heavy metals and other toxic substances.
Children who develop autism have an impaired ability to detoxify their body from mercury and other heavy metals. Mercury is one of the most toxic substances that exists and is especially harmful to the neural system and to foetuses. One important source of mercury is amalgam which releases mercury into the body. A study from 2010 of 100 women showed that if a mother has more than 8 eight amalgam fillings her child runs a more than four times increased risk to develop autism than children of mothers without amalgam.
In the 1990`s the number of vaccinations for infants increased substantially. Until then an infant received 11 doses of vaccine during the first six months which now increased to 28. All of these vaccines contained Thiomersal or ethylmercury as a preservative.
In one vaccination with vaccines containing thimerosal, children could recieve a 150 times higher dose of mercury than was recommended as the highest safe daily dose for an adult. Taking into account the body weight this would mean that an infant would receive about 2000 times more mercury in one vaccination than the highest safe daily dose. Moreover children used to get several vaccines in one shot.
In ten years the autism rate in American children increased from 1 in 2,500 children in 1995 to 1 in 166 or 1 in 80 boys in 2005.
A research review of studies of autism from 2010 found that 58 studies had investigated a possible link between autism and heavy metals. 43 (74%) of these papers support the theory that heavy metals are associated with autism (VE 161).
Vaccinations cause autism by damaging the immune system
Another devastating effect of vaccinations is damage to the immune system of the intestines caused by the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and other vaccines.
Many parents all over the world have reported that their children came down with a fever after vaccinations and suddenly regressed, stopped talking and playing as before and developed typical autistic symptoms. Typically the MMR vaccine is involved but most other vaccines have been reported to do the same harm.
In the UK more than 2000 families claim that their children developed normally till they were given the MMR vaccination at around the age of 12-18 months.
The British scientist Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues have found that the MMR vaccination can cause swelling of the lymph nodes in the bowels, inflammation of the intestinal mucosa and impair the assimilation of nourishment; Wakefield and his colleagues have been able to isolate the same measles virus as in the MMR vaccine from the intestine of autistic children with bowel symptoms.
Intolerance to gluten and casein in autism
A number of research studies have shown that impaired functioning of the bowels prevents the breaking down of casein (milk protein) and gluten. Instead of amino acids, peptides are formed which are absorbed from the intestines and cross the blood brain barrier. They have an effect similar to morphine, so called exomorphines They are secreted in the urine and can be measured.
These peptides are highly addictive and often cause children to limit their diet to dairy products and wheat. In autistic children these peptides affect play and social interaction and may cause reduced sensitivity to pain and self-mutilating behavior.
In autism another harmful effect of gluten and casein is to produce cytokines, which are substances that cause inflammation of the brain, especially in the cerebellum.
Research has identified two different patterns of peptides in the urine of autistic children. One of these patterns is seen in children who are intolerant to casein. Many of these children are high functioning autistic children. However casein intolerance is also very common in hyperactivity, ADHD, ADD, obsessive compulsive symptoms, anxiety and panic disorders.
Children with intolerance to casein are easily recognized by their case history. Typically they have or have had more or less of the following symptoms:
- The child cried a lot as a baby
- Infancy colic
- Feeding problems in early infancy
- Sleeping problems in early infancy
- Repeated infections, especially ear infections in early childhood
- Conspicuously slow and inactive as a baby
- Allergies, especially to dairy
- Digestive problems, constipation, bloating, sometimes loose stools, belly ache.
- Temper tantrums
- Addictedness to casein
Children with autism may also be intolerant to gluten and other foodstuffs, such as rice, corn, beans, tomatoes etc. These children usually get their autistic symptoms later after a normal development during the first one or two years. Parents of these children often report that the children developed digestive symptoms and continuous crying after weaning, when cereals and cow milk were introduced in their diet and sometimes after vaccination, frequently flu vaccination or the MMR vaccination.
These children usually have more severe autistic symptoms than the first group with pervasive lack of response to other people and gross deficits in language development or no spoken language at all.
Scientific studies corroborate the positive effects of diet
Many studies have demonstrated positive effects of a gluten and casein free diet in autism and many parents have corroborate these findings. The most significant of these studies is the so called Scan Brit study from 2010, in which 72 Danish autistic children from four to ten years were tested and randomly assigned to a diet or a non-diet group. After six and twelve months the tests were repeated and the results showed clinical improvement in the children on a diet compared to the other group.
Rhythmic Movement Training in Autism
The rhythmic exercises stimulate many of the areas of the brain which are damaged in autism and improve their function. For optimal effect of RMT the gastrointestinal function need to be addressed. Otherwise toxins, peptides and allergens will cross the mucosa and be transported from the bowels and pass the blood brain barrier, causing continued brain damage by inflammatory and toxic reactions of the brain.
It happens quite frequently that the child gets over stimulated by rhythmic exercises and reacts with restlessness and hyperactivity. Such reactions may occur also in children with ADD and ADHD.
The cause of these reactions is probably an inability of the brainstem to filter stimulation from the tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive senses. Excessive stimulation reaches the brain and activates its glutamate receptors. Glutamate is the most widespread transmitter substance in the brain. If there is an inability to convert stimulating glutamate into inhibiting GABA the child will soon become restless and start wriggling and try to get away.
Therefore a child with autism should be on a diet free from gluten, casein and preferably soy. This is especially important for children who do rhythmic exercises.
Self stimulating Behavior
If the concentration of glutamate rises to toxic levels outside the neurons they start firing uncontrollably causing self stimulating behavior or stims. These are repetitive body movements that stimulate one or several senses in a regulated manner. They include
- hand flapping
- body spinning or rocking
- mechanically lining up or spinning toys
- repeating rote phrases
- echolalia, i.e. mechanically repeating what others say
- perseveration, (repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus)
Rhythmic exercises improve speech
Almost all children with autism or ASD have more or less obvious difficulties doing simple active rhythmic exercises. Such difficulties are also common in children with ADD, ADHD and late speech development and indicate a damage of the cerebellum. Such damage is especially common in autism and has been confirmed by many research studies. Damage of the cerebellum may prevent speech from developing since speech cannot develop if the speech areas of the left hemisphere don´t get sufficient stimulation from the cerebellum.
By stimulating the cerebellum with rhythmic exercises speech development will be promoted. The Purkinje cells of the cerebellum use GABA as a transmitter substance and the rhythmic exercises will in the long run cause more GABA to be produced provided inflammation of the cerebellum and glutamate accumulation can be prevented by an appropriate diet.
Emotional challenges in autism
Children with autism have difficulties to relate themselves to people and to show affection. They often do not express any desires or needs. They show little or no curiosity and avoid body contact. They are usually in severe stress. Due to an active fear paralysis reflex they prefer to withdraw into themselves and may get very stressed by demands. They may protest and have temper tantrums if they are disturbed or must do something they do not want to. Some autistic children may even protest to all demands, so called oppositional behavior disorder.
On the other hand autistic children do not come into the assertive age or the so called terrible twos when they are able adequately to express what they want or do not want without having temper tantrums.
Rhythmic Movement Training develops emotions.
The passive and active rhythmic movements stimulate the limbic system both by way of the brainstem and the cerebellum. When the limbic system is stimulated emotions will develop. The child starts to attach himself emotionally to the parents and to express needs and desires. The child often wants to sit on the parents´ lap or sleep in their bed. He may start to show emotions of affection, assertion and defiance. The child often will start to make contact and play with other children.
However, adverse reactions to the training such as hyperactivity, mood swings, aggressiveness or self stimulating behavior indicate over stimulation of the brain and glutamate accumulation. In such cases the child needs an adequate diet to be able to continue the training. If the child gets such reactions in spite of such a diet it is advisable to reduce the exercises or make a temporary halt.