Dr. KennedyDescription

Autism is a spectrum disorder and may be present at any age, and although it is defined by a certain set of behaviors, autism can exhibit any combination of these behaviors in any degree.

Various qualifying tems are used, such as autistic-like, autistic tendencies, autism spectrum, high-functioning or low-functioning autism, more-abled or less-abled. More important than the term

used to describe autism is knowing that whatever the terms used, children with autism can learn and function normally and show improvement with appropriate treatment and education. Persons with autism may also exhibit some of the following traits:

  • Tantrums
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Sustained odd play
  • Spinning objects
  • Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills
  • Non responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf, although hearing tests in normal range.
  • Difficulty in expressing needs, using gestures or pointing instead of words
  • Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
  • Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
  • Obsessive attachment to objects
  • Laughing (and/or crying) for no apparent reason; showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
  • Preference to being alone; aloof manner
  • Difficulty in mixing with others
  • Not wanting to cuddle or be cuddled
  • Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
  • No real fears of danger
  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
  • Some individuals mildly affected may exhibit only slight delays in language and greater challenges with social interactions. They may have difficulty initiating and/or maintaining a conversation.

    Their communication is often described as talking at others instead of to them. For example, a monologue on a favorite subject may continue despite attempts by others to

    interject comments or change the subject. People with autism process information in unique ways. In some cases, aggressive or self-injurious behavior may be present.

    The integration of our senses helps us to understand what we are experiencing. For example, the sense of touch, smell and taste work together in the experience of eating an apple, the feel of the apple’s skin, its smell, and the juices running down your face. For children with autism, sensory integration problems are common, which may throw their senses off they may be over or

    under active. The skin of the apple may actually be experienced as painful and the smell may bring on gaging. Some children with autism find even the most ordinary daily noises painful. Many

    professionals feel that some of the typical autism behaviors, like the ones listed above, are actually a result of sensory integration difficulties.

    There are also many misconceptions about autism. Contrary to popular belief, many autistic children do make eye contact; it just may be less often or different from a non-autistic child. Many

    children with autism can develop good functional language and others can develop some type of communication skills, such as sign language or use of pictures. Children do not “outgrow” autism

    but symptoms may lessen as the child develops and receives treatment. One unfortunate myth about autistic children is that they cannot show affection. While sensory stimulation is processed

    differently in some children, they can and do give affection. However, it may require patience on the parents’ part to accept and give love in the child’s terms.


    There are no medical tests for diagnosing autism. Because this is so, autism is a “clinical” diagnosis which untimately means that is is the doctors considered opinion. A brief observation in a single setting cannot present a true picture of an individual’s abilities and behaviors and such a diagnosis should not be taken seriously. Input from parents, caregivers, and teachers as well as

    developmental history should be carefully considered. Nevertheless, if autism is suspecred, early diagnosis is important as it is associated with dramatically better outcomes for individuals who,

    as a result of diagnosis, receive treatment. The earlier a child is diagnosed, the earlier the child can begin benefiting from one or more of the many specialized intervention and treatment



    It is conservatively estimated that nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. today have some form of autism. It is now the third most common developmental disability – more common than Down’s

    syndrome. Because the incidence of autism has increased from one out of 667 to one out of 150 over the past 25 years, there is a stong suspicion that it is influenced by toxic factors in food, air,

    or water, and also possibly related to gnetic engineering of our food production system. Heavy metal toxicity, particulary from lead and mercury are suspected by many alternative practitioners to

    be serious provocateurs of autism.


    Detoxification from heavy metals has provided dramatic improvement for many children affected by autism. This should be considered in every case. Metal detox should be followed with the SanPharma Protocol, especially in those cases which involve digestive disturbance. There is no doubt that dysregulation of the immune system and resultant dysbiosis play a large part in the symptomatolgy of autism. I have had great success with this approach.

    Only a generation ago, many people with autism were placed in institutions. Professionals were poorly educated about

    autism and services and supports were almost non-existent. Today, with appropriate services and supports, training, and information, children in the autism spectrum will grow, learn and

    flourish, even if at a different developmental rate than others.

    Treatment approaches fall into three general categories: (1) Learning Approaches, (2) Biomedical and Dietary Approaches, and (3) Complementary Approaches. In terms of importance, I suggest you reverse that list.

    From the age of 3 through the age of 21, every child diagnosed on the autism spectrum is guaranteed a free appropriate public education supplied by the local education agency. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal mandate that guarantees this education. Whatever the level of impairment, the educational program for an individual on the autism spectrum should be based on the unique needs of the student, and thoroughly documented in an “Individualized Education Program.” Parents can and should be active participants in deciding on an educational plan for their child.

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